Chapter Ten – the end is in sight!
When Giles and Buffy made their way downstairs, they found Spike still sleeping, now lying on his side with his head pillowed on one arm. The Scoobies were also napping as much as they could on the uncomfortable floor. Buffy looked at the crowded carpet and walked over to where Spike was, sitting beside his head and placing a hand on his shoulder. “I’m going to take a nap,” she said pushing him to his stomach so she could rest her head on his back. There was a muffled growl from the sleeping vampire – a growl which cut off abruptly when Buffy’s head and arm landed on his back.
She dozed off, hoping she would wake up before anyone saw her using Spike as a pillow. Long before anyone else stirred, she felt a soothing rumbling coming from beneath her. “Are you purring?” she whispered. She shifted uncomfortably as the vibrations seemed to travel from her arm throughout her whole body, creating sensations she chose not to examine too closely. Spike’s chuckle told her he knew exactly how she was reacting, and she flushed, sitting up and moving a few inches away.
He sat up also, stretching his arms overhead and giving her a glimpse of some amazing abs. Without thinking, Buffy grabbed for the hem of his shirt and tried to pull it down, in the process grazing his skin with her fingers. His sudden in-drawn breath was matched by her gasp, and they stared at each other until he finally moved her hand away saying, “If you don’t want me purrin’, I’d suggest keeping those hot little hands off my body until we’re somewhere I can do something about what it does to me.”
“I didn’t mean to,” she said, blushing. Seeing that Giles was also awake again, she sat up straighter and shifted farther away from Spike. “I think it must be night-time, Giles,” she said. Giles looked at Spike for confirmation, and when he nodded, began to waken the other three humans.
“Do we have a plan?” Xander sat up and rubbed his eyes. “Can I bring Bessie?”
“The plan is, we must somehow slay as many of the captive demons and vampires as possible, while trying not to harm any of the soldiers who have no idea they are working for a rogue organization…”
Spike snorted. “They know bloody well what they’re working for. You don’t think Walsh just snaps her fingers and demons and vamps follow her to the lab like baby ducks, do you? Those wankers know what they’re working for, they’ve just been brainwashed to think anything that doesn’t look or act like them is sub-human… even Buffy.”
Buffy stared at Spike for a moment. “Are any of the captives non-evil?”
“Some of ‘em,” he said. “Could point them out for you.” He held her eyes while the exchange was observed by everyone else in the room. Finally Buffy nodded and turned her gaze on Giles.
“My job is to protect the good and innocent from evil, right? So, if something isn’t human, but it’s not evil….”
“I’m not sure the Council would approve of such an expansion of your responsibilities, but I suppose that’s true.”
“Okay, then. Here’s the plan….”
“Do you really think that overfed prat is going to do what you want?” Buffy’s plan to make Riley release the captives for her was meeting with some opposition.
“If he thinks we’re holding all his men hostage, he will. The question is, how many of them can we incapacitate and silence before we’re busted?”
“Between the two of us? A goodly number of them, I’d think. They should be bloody afraid of you by now, and I’m a creature of the night that they think is harmless. Piece of cake.”
“You know you probably just jinxed us, don’t you?” Buffy wrinkled her nose and sighed. Spike’s warm chuckle echoed in her ear as he put one arm around her.
“If it isn’t easy, then we’ll do it the hard way. Either way, they don’t stand a chance.”
As they approached Lowell House, Spike held up a hand and stopped their small group of infiltrators. “Best let me go ahead and locate any outside guards. No reason to think they have any, being as how they think they’re huntin’ us, but just in case…”
While everyone else waited in the shelter of a van, Spike moved silently toward the fraternity house that could provide them entrance to the lab area beneath. Buffy crept behind him, stopping only when he turned around to glare at her.
“I think the one with no heartbeat, no body heat and over a hundred years of experience being invisible until it was time to be seen has the best chance of getting past any guards or sensors, pet. Thought we’d settled this.”
“I’m not going any closer,” she said. “I just want to be where I can hear or see if anything goes wrong.”
“I’d appreciate that concern more if I was sure you were worried about my welfare and not what I might do.”
Buffy had no response to that. She had been worrying that if he had a chance he might take out his resentment about the chip on the men responsible for capturing him. Filing it away as something to apologize for later, she shrugged and said simply, “Be careful.”
Without another word or a backward glance, he disappeared so fast she had to blink several times before she could accept that she couldn’t see him anymore. Buffy waited, less than patiently, beginning to fidget and wonder if she needed to follow him. She’d just decided she should, when he reappeared as silently as he’d left. He gestured with his head and they walked back to where the others were waiting.
“Alright, here’s the situation. I’ve disabled all the motion detectors and heat sensors that I could find. There’s one guard who circles the building every eight minutes. I left him alone for now so he couldn’t raise an alarm.”
Spike paused and spoke directly to Buffy. “He’s going to have to be silenced before we go in. The good news is, I only a heard a small number of heartbeats and most of them were slow and steady, like they were sleeping. I’m thinking that most of the ninja wannabes are out looking for us, and the ones left behind are the ones who’ve been up all night last night and today. It should be fairly easy to locate and disable them one at a time.”
“And the bad news is…?” Xander broke into Spike’s narration, earning a grin from the vampire.
“The bad news is, we don’t know for sure where the rest of them are. They could be out running around looking for us and getting’ lost in the sewers, they could decide to come home while we’re still here, or they could be already down in the lab area.”
“If there are only a few in the house, it’s too good to pass up. We’ll worry about what’s downstairs when we get there.” Buffy pointed toward the house. “We’ll wait until the guard has passed us by, then Spike and I will take him down while you guys get to the back door. Giles will open it, and—”
“I could open it,” Willow said, just the trace of a pout in her voice.
“Or Willow could magic it open. I don’t care, as long as we can get in fast and without making any noise.”
“Let’s go then,” Spike said, moving off. “The guard should be hitting the far corner any time now. As soon as he makes the turn, we’ll go after him.”
Keeping to the bushes and shadows as much as possible, they all crept forward, crouching down when the lone guard came around the corner and began his stroll across the back of the building. As soon as he was almost to the other corner, they all moved forward, Buffy and Spike taking the lead and moving with deadly speed and silence. They rounded the corner in time to reach the man before he could get very far, Spike grabbing him from behind and putting a hand over his mouth while Buffy took his gun away. It was obvious that the soldier had recognized from the powerful arms holding him that his attacker was not human and he struggled frantically until Spike growled in his ear, “Don’t want to hurt you, but if you keep it up I’m not making any promises…”
The man stopped struggling, resigning himself to being temporarily defeated.
“What do you want to do with him, pet? Knock him out or gag him?”
“You just told him we weren’t going to hurt him if he stopped fighting, so I guess we’ll have to go with a gag.” She used the man’s own handcuffs to put his hands behind his back, then took a cord from his utility belt, tied his ankles together and looped it up to the handcuffs, leaving him trussed up tightly. Spike’s hand was still over the man’s mouth, containing the muffled curses now coming from him.
Buffy ripped a strip of cloth off the man’s shirt and rolled it up, stuffing it in his mouth carefully. “You don’t have a cold, do you?” she asked with sudden concern. He shook his head, eyes wide that his captors would even bother to worry about his ability to breathe. “Good.” They left him lying on his side far enough away that he wouldn’t be able to kick the house, but close enough to be within a pool of light from a window. “We’ll be back for you,” she promised, poking Spike when he went into game face and licked his lips as he agreed.
“Asshole,” she muttered.
Moving quickly, they joined Giles, Xander, Anya and Willow now hiding in the kitchen of the quiet house. Spike’s hearing had him pointing silently to various rooms where he could hear single heartbeats. They split up, Buffy and Spike creeping from room to room, incapacitating the man within and then turning him over to Anya and Giles to tie up and gag. Willow remained in the kitchen, using a small glamour to muffle any sounds. Xander stood at the entrance, gun held loosely, watching as the various soldiers were dragged to the kitchen and left in a heap on the floor.
When Buffy and Spike had made a quick tour of the house, making sure they hadn’t overlooked anyone, they returned to the kitchen and stared at their captives. Asking Spike to go get the man they’d left outside, Buffy addressed the tied up men.
“Okay, guys. Here’s the sitch – you’re going to be shut down. Probably in a day or two. Turns out your boss and her pet general weren’t exactly straight with the US Army about what they were doing here and… yeah, heads are gonna roll. In the meantime, my….” She looked at Giles. “What should I call them? I’ll be damned if I’ll call the Council my ‘bosses’!”
“I think the organization that supports you would be sufficient.”
“Supports? So they’ve put the Slayer on salary now?” Spike deposited his burden next to the other men and jumped up to sit on the kitchen counter.
Buffy snorted. “Not that I’ve noticed,” she said, turning her attention back to men staring at her as if she was speaking a foreign language. “Anyway, these guys who think they can tell me what to do want me to take care of all the vamps and demons in your cages before the regular Army guys show up. So, who wants to help me get down there to do that?” She gave them her best “I’ve only tied you up for your own good” smile and waited to see if anyone would respond. To her surprise, one of the men she’d left in the sewers made noises behind his gag and she pulled it away from his mouth.
“I’ll help you,” he said, ignoring the disturbed squirming around him. “I don’t know what you are, but I don’t think you’re evil.” The guard that Buffy and Spike had been so careful not to injure when they disabled him nodded his head vigorously.
Buffy released the soldier, helping him to stand and pointing toward the elevator. “You can get us in there?”
He nodded and walked toward it. Xander looked disappointed as he said, “Do I need to threaten to shot your buddies if you don’t cooperate?”
“Would you do that?” The man seemed genuinely curious, and also as if he might be rethinking his offer.
“Well, probably not… but you don’t know that. I think you should assume I would.” Xander looked embarrassed about his admission, but it seemed to have swayed a few more of the tied up men that they weren’t dealing with enemies.
“Good job giving away the game, Harris,” Spike snorted. “Remind not to ask you to threaten anyone for me.”
“Hey, chipped one, when I threaten to stake you, I mean it.”
“Bring it on,” Spike growled.
“Cut it out, you two. We don’t have time for all your manly posturing. We have to get down to the lab and get rid of those caged demons.”
“Let’s not leave all this tied up food on the kitchen floor,” Spike said. “Just in case their mates get home early.” It took only a few minutes for the men to be placed, as comfortably as possible, in one of the bedrooms. Shutting the door, Buffy took her volunteer by the arm and said, “Lead on.”
They all followed the man to the elevator, squeezing in and watching curiously as he used voice recognition to gain permission for the elevator to descend. Just as they reached the bottom, Buffy asked suddenly, “Is anyone down here? I mean, like commando guys, not lab workers.”
He shrugged. “I think they all went out looking for you, but I don’t really know. I’ve been asleep since around four this afternoon. Might be a few lab rats still working.”
He led them down a corridor and through a set of heavy doors into a long, wide hallway lined with white spaces with Plexiglas fronts to them. Spike began a steady snarl as he recognized his surroundings. Ignoring the looks from Willow and Xander, Buffy put a soothing hand on his arm as she gave her orders.
“Okay, guys, Spike and Anya can start at different ends of the cages and tell me which ones are evil and which ones aren’t. Our friend here…” She looked at the commando quizzically and he responded with “Bob”. “… is going to help me open the doors to the cages with harmless or non-evil demons.” She looked up at Spike. “Can you show them how to get out?”
He nodded. “Can point them toward the vent I used to find my way out.”
“Okay then. Let’s get started.” She walked with Spike to the far end of the line of cages, leaving Giles to supervise Bob and the door opening consol. As they walked down the long corridor, glancing from side to side, Buffy could see that all the captives were either drugged or damaged in some way. The vampires and demons looked up at her with resignation and apathy. Many of the demons seemed to be missing body parts and to be in considerable pain. She looked at Spike with wide eyes, and he gazed back saying, “I told you, Slayer. Vivisectionist.”
As Spike commented on the creatures in the cells, Buffy would point to the cell and Giles and Bob would open the door. Most of the demons were afraid to come out when they saw Buffy, so she reluctantly went back to stand by the console, leaving Spike and Anya to explain to the freed demons that they needed to get out as quickly as possible.
While Spike led a limping, weak group of bewildered demons to the large ventilation shaft he’d used to escape, Buffy began walking back down the row, stake in hand. She signaled to Bob to open a cage containing a vampire couple, clinging to each other with thin arms. They gave weak snarls when she came in, but seemed unable to generate the energy to do anything about their obvious hunger.
The male vamp looked at her through bleary bloodshot eyes. “She wants to know how long it takes a vamp to starve to death, and what it looks like. I can’t remember the last time we had food.” They both stared at her neck with undisguised hunger, but were incapable of doing anything but leaning in her direction and whimpering. When she continued to stand there, frowning with indecision, he growled. “Just do it, Slayer. You’ll be doing us both a favor. We’re too weak to escape and I don’t see you wanting to carry us out of here.”
Nodding Buffy stepped forward and watched with astonishment as the barely conscious vamps exchange a lingering kiss and murmured pledges of love before presenting their chests to her. Swallowing the lump in her throat, she quickly dusted them and ran out to the next cage. By the time Spike came back, her tears had turned to cold anger as she worked her way through the cages, staking vampires too drugged or weak to fight back and snapping the necks of similarly incapacitated demons.
“They are bigger monsters than anything in here,” she said when Spike appeared behind her. She was about to enter another cage where a Fyral demon stared up at her with dull eyes, unable to move his broken and clawless arms or legs. Spike put a hand on her arm.
“Let me do this for you, love. This isn’t work for a Slayer.”
She bit her lip, then nodded gratefully. “Okay. Thanks.” She handed him her stake and a silver dagger she’d brought with her just in case. Rejoining Bob and Giles at the console, she said, “You may as well open them all, Bob. There’s nothing left in here that’s capable to escaping or harming anyone. And if they try, Xander can shoot them.”
He frowned, but did as he was told, joining Anya and Willow as they made sure Buffy was between them and the opened cages. Spike went down the line, offering a murmured apology here and there as he methodically broke necks and slit throats until there was nothing alive left in the big room except the humans clustered around the cage console.
Originally posted at https://seasonal-spuffy.dreamwidth.org/327839.html