Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or any of the characters mentioned in the cannon.

A/N: A big thank you to those who reviewed last chapter, your feedback is always appreciated! I hope you enjoy chapter 20, I can't believe that this story is coming to an end!

CHAPTER 20

Buffy groaned as she regained her consciousness, lifting her head from where her chin had been resting against her chest; her neck slightly sore from the awkward position. Buffy opened her eyes taking in the room Xander had led her to. She scowled darkly, 'If I ever get my hands on that little bastard, he's gonna be sorry he ever met me!' Buffy thought angrily, her anger wasn't only for him though. It was also aimed at herself for having so easily fallen into his trap; all he'd had to say was that 'Angelus had a surprise' for her and she'd been completely taken in. Buffy felt the chains wrapped around her wrists and ankles and she glanced at them taking in the thick chains and the thick metal of the board that she was chained to… a metal that was pressing harshly into her back. She jerked experimentally; testing her bonds in the hopes that she would be able to break free. She doubted very much that the older blond vampiress, that had evidently been the mastermind behind all of this, wanted anything pleasant from her… if she'd gone to all the trouble of binding her so securely.

"Ah, so you're finally awake." That hated female voice spoke up; having noticed that her captive had finally regained consciousness. "I was beginning to think that it would grow dark before you finally woke up."

Buffy turned her head to the right; in the direction of the voice she had only heard once or twice since she'd been railroaded in to the Aurelius mansion. "You won't get away with this." She murmured forcing herself to keep her voice calm as her gaze met the older vampiress' and as with the other times she had been in her presence; her eyes were full of hatred for her. 'What the hell have I done to her?' Buffy thought as she kept her gaze steady; not wanting to show weakness in front of her; despite the fear that she could feel curdling in her stomach. The seething hatred in her eyes letting her know that this wasn't going to be quick… Buffy swallowed thickly as she could only imagine the amount of pain that the woman was going to take great pleasure in dishing out to her.

Darla let out a small burst of snorting laughter as she stepped towards her prey; prey that was so delightfully helpless against her. Couldn't escape no matter how much she tried to; those chains wouldn't relinquish her prey… not with a vampiress as weak as the one that had managed to beguile her boy… taking him from her; a sin that she found unforgivable and this afternoon she was going to get her revenge, and in the process regain her Childe. "But, I already have." She said confidently. "No one knows where you are except for Xander and myself. And Xander won't say a word. So we are alone and… nothing but you and me and all the time in the world. I do hope that you're a screamer. Torture isn't as much fun if your prey doesn't scream."

"Well," Buffy murmured, her hazel eyes flashing defiantly as she stared at her new captor. "I don't do compliance very well. So, I think you'd be out of luck on that one… didn't Angelus tell you?" She tacked on at the end, her voice a little snooty.

Darla's lips pulled down in an angry sneer; her eyes flashing angrily at the bitch, who dared flaunted the fact that she had ensnared Angelus where so many others including herself had failed. "Why would he need to mention something so trivial?" She countered as she tossed some of her blond hair over her shoulder in a gesture that was supposed to show just how unfazed she was… or was attempting to be, as was the case. "I'll get you to scream, whether you want to or not." Darla informed her cockily. She may not be as good at torture as Angelus, but she wasn't bad… she just didn't have the same patience as her Childe.

"I'm sure that you'll do your best to try." Buffy said with a cockiness that she didn't feel as she continued to stare at the vampiress determinedly; she would not let the hateful woman know just how scared she was. "But, before you begin, I have just one question?" She asked, adopting a tone she had heard Angelus use countless times. Something that didn't go unnoticed by Darla who recognised the sardonic mocking tone that her Childe favoured so much; causing her eyes to narrow at the girls impudence at daring to use it on her. "Just who the hell are you?" Buffy asked, wanting to know the name of the woman who was going to torture and kill her all because Angelus wanted her instead.

Darla growled angrily, her dead heart clenching in hurt and anger at the insinuation that Angelus hadn't even talked about her to the young vampiress he had taken to mate. "Are you trying to tell me that, Angelus never mentioned me… not once?!"

Buffy attempted to shrug only for the motion to be hindered by the chains that so tightly bound her to the metal board. "Well, obviously you're not important enough to warrant a mention… not even once." She couldn't help rubbing it in.

Darla growled her face shifting into the hard ridges of the demon as her anger rose sharply. Her hand shot out and in the next instant the sound of flesh hitting against flesh filled the room for a short moment as Darla's hand, made harsh contact with Buffy's cheek; sending her head flying to the side from the blow and her cheek stinging sharply. "How dare you!" She growled, her chest heaving with her angry unneeded breaths. "I am the most important person in Angelus' life!" She declared, her voice edged sharply with her anger. "I'm his Sire, Darla."

Buffy mouth opened with a silent 'Ah' of sudden understanding, as everything now made sense. "Now I understand you're upset because I took your place in Angelus' life; a mate is more important than a Sire in a vampire's life." She stated, and in that moment she could have almost laughed at the irony. Darla hated her for something that she hadn't wanted in the first place… something the older vampiress was convinced that she had stolen from her.

Darla growled again, closing the short distance between herself and her prey, her right hand closing harshly around Buffy's slender throat. The feel of Angelus' mating mark against her fingers making her anger and jealousy rise to greater heights. "No one can take my place in Angelus' life! Especially not a common little thing like you!" She snarled as she raised her free hand, finding that more than ever in that moment she wanted to mar the girls pretty face… wanting that face to be ruined when she sent the little conniving bitch to her true death. Darla pressed her hand against her Childe's mate's right cheek, her thumb coming to rest over the girl's eye. Without a moment's hesitation, she drove her thumb into small ball that was the girl's right eye.

Buffy did her best to keep herself from screaming at the white hot stab of pain that coursed through her eye socket and into her brain as well as down her cheek and nose as if a fire branded her flesh, but she couldn't stop herself when Darla twisted her thumb inside her eye socket. The scream exploded from her mouth, beyond her control.

Her scream was short lived however as it turned to more of a trapped high-pitched moan as she forced her mouth shut as Darla pulled her thumb out of Buffy's right eye. Darla removed her hand completely from the girls face happy with the change to Buffy's face as blood ran down her right cheek from her now eyeless socket; the blood mixing with the white goo that was once her eye. Darla pulled out a white hanky from her pocket and with patience that suggested she truly did have all the time in the world, cleaned the bloody mess from her thumb and wrist, but not before Buffy's blood stained the sleeve of her shirt. "Well, looks like you do scream after all." She mocked tauntingly. Buffy made no reply this time, unable to find words at the moment as the pain in her right eye socket continued to thrum threw her painfully and her blood began to slowly dry on her cheek even as more blood slowly leaked from her ruined eye; the severe wound to her eye slowly beginning to heal already, but the pain was still terrible and she knew that it was only the beginning of her torment. 'Angelus,' she couldn't help, but think in desperate hope that somehow he'd work out where she was and come save her.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Angelus twitched in the now stone cold water that he had allowed himself to take a nap in; his pleasant dreams taking a darker unpleasant turn. His lips parting as he beared his teeth to the empty bathroom, a low growl rumbling in his chest as a frown darkened his brow. But despite the sudden turn of his dreams, Angelus didn't wake from his sleep as his body lay tense now in the cold water of his bath.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy's teeth sunk into her lower lip rather viciously as she bit back the groan of pain that wanted to escape her as the wickedly sharp knife Darla had picked from the multitude of torture devices and weapons bit deeply into her flesh. The sharp blade easily tearing open her flesh, Buffy's teeth sunk deeper into her lower lip; drawing blood as Darla slid the knife along her flesh. Buffy's chest rose and fell harshly as Darla removed the knife from her flesh; she lifted her gaze to the face that she now hated probably as furiously as the woman hated her. Darla gave her a smug look as she pressed the knife to her lips for a moment, her eyes meeting Buffy's as her tongue flicked out along the blade tasting her blood. "Don't faint on me now." Darla ordered as she lowered the blade from her lips. "We are only just getting started." She murmured with a cruel smile curling up her lips as she took in the damage she had already done with pleasure. She may not have Angelus' finesse when it came to the fine art of torture, but she did have a certain flare for it.

Buffy growled the pain her knife had caused already fading to a dull throb. "If this is the best you've got… it's hardly a wonder why you've been cast aside." She spat vindictively, wanting to return at least some of the pain back to the vampiress who was so desperate to see her suffer.

Darla growled and plunged the knife roughly into the same spot as before reopening the wound that had begun the slow process of knitting closed. This time thrusting the knife all the way into the hilt; something that was completely unnecessary for what she had in mind for the girl, but did succeed in venting some of her anger the girl so effortlessly invoked inside of her. "I wasn't cast aside." She growled as she removed the knife from Buffy's flesh. "It was a mere misunderstanding!" She snarled as she lifted her free hand up to the wound and took great pleasure in the fresh pain that crossed Buffy's face as her hand slid up inside the wound, forcing it to open wider… tearing the flesh further as she reached in through the blood stained and torn shirt.

Despite the pain though, Buffy didn't stop staring at Darla through her one good eye, the lid of her right eye closed over her slowly healing right eye. Despite her bravado, Buffy wanted nothing more than for this to be over already. 'Angelus… where are you?' She thought disheartened… surely he could tell that she was in trouble? But maybe it was as she had been fearing… that he didn't really care after all… that this was all just some kind of cruel game for him… Buffy couldn't stop the pained scream that erupted from her and echoed around the entire room as Darla's hand closed around her rib and easily broke the bone with a powerful twist of her wrist, and tugging the broken end up through her sliced open flesh, so that the tip and some of the length was poking out of her, the whitish bone slick with blood. And without her consent tears began to fall from her left eye as she gasped harshly as the pain sliced through her horribly.

Darla gave a delighted giggle. "Oh, I knew that you would be such a delightful screamer." She almost purred, her eyes flashing happily as she began work on the second rib… intending to do them all, and quiet a lot more before she put the little bitch out of her misery.

Buffy gritted her teeth, hating the fact that she didn't seem to have much control over her vocal cords anymore… and this torture had only just barely began. She hadn't wanted to give Darla the satisfaction… but just as she had with Angelus she couldn't seem to stop herself from giving them the very satisfaction that they sought… no matter how hard she tried. 'Angelus!' She thought desolately… her mind unable to help thinking about her darkly handsome mate… hoping that he would come for her… but as more time passed the more she thought that it wouldn't happen… Of course as she thrummed with pain and desolation… she had no real idea of how much time had actually past since she had woken up in this position.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Angelus jerked awake, sloshing water over the sides of the tub, his face the hard ridges of the demon as he looked about his private bathroom with his amber eyes; eyes that were full of anger and worry. With an agile movement he sprang out of the tub, sending more water flying throughout the bathroom. He grasped his towel and quickly dried off, low growls escaping him as he wrapped the soft material around his waist as he began walking out his bathroom and into the room that he now shared with Buffy. He could feel her pain and fear in the back of his mind… a pain that sharpened and lessened in what could almost seem like random intervals, but he knew better… better than anyone what that type of pain meant.

Torture, someone had the gall to torture his mate! Angelus growled as he forced his face to change back into the smooth features of the human he hadn't been in centuries as he threw on the first clothes that he could find; wanting nothing more than to begin the search for his mate… never had he thought that anyone would dare harm her! There wasn't many that was stupid enough to tempt his anger and even less that of Nest… there was only one that he could think of that would be desperate enough to tempt both of their wrath; possibly even thought herself so high up in the Order and so favoured by The Master that she would be safe from them. But it was not so, at least not on his part! He would see to it that Darla paid for this insult… she would understand the true meaning of pain and suffering… he would see to it…

Angelus growled menacingly, his hands tightening around the last button of the shirt he had been doing up; almost accidentally tearing it from the shirt instead of pressing it through the hole that it was designed to go through. Not bothering to tuck the shirt into the leather of his pants, for once not caring one bit for the first time in his life about his appearance as he marched quickly for the door, taking advantage of his long stride as he moved out into the hallway. He went to move one way in search of his mate, cursing the fact that the bond that connected them couldn't show him where she was… Angelus winced as he felt her pain sky rocket once again inside his head. His steps faltered however despite the urgency he felt as he sensed and heard two familiar vampiress' moving towards the room he had just vacated. Spinning on his heal Angelus marched in the opposite direction to the way he had originally chosen to meet the two.

Faith and Willow paused in their steps as Angelus came hurrying towards them. Never had either of them seen him looking quite so… haggard as he did in that moment as he hurried towards them. "Where's Buffy?" He asked urgently.

Willow and Faith looked at each other in surprise and concern, before they turned their gazes back to Angelus. "We haven't seen her yet tonight." Faith said a little stiffly.

"We were just coming in search of her." Willow explained, her tone a little more friendly than Faith's. Angelus growled in annoyance, having hoped that the two would at least know something! But if they hadn't even seen her… then how long had she been in Darla's clutches?! He pondered concerned just what kind of damage Darla could have done to her sweet little body in the amount of time since she had left their room… but it was very unlikely that Darla had had her clutches in his girl the entire time… or at least he hoped that was the case.

His Sire may not have the same amount of talent for torture as he himself did, but she could still do a great deal of damage when she put her mind to it. 'Hold on, Buff. I'm coming for you… just don't go pissing that old bitch off too much, before I get there.' Angelus thought, hoping that by some unholy miracle that she would hear him… not that such a thing was possible even among the closest of mates… and they weren't all that close… yet!

Faith and Willow exchanged another look as Angelus quickly moved away from them, going back the way he had come, before they hurried after him; a bad feeling settling in both their stomachs for their friend. "What's going on?" Faith demanded as she moved to hurry down the hall at Angelus' side leaving Willow to trail a little behind them. "What's happened to Buffy?!"

In response Angelus growled and for a long moment Faith believed that she would get no other response from the dark and obviously agitated vampire as he marched along the hall and then after the shortest of hesitations he turned down into another hall a dark frown on his face as he did so. Angelus glanced over at Faith who continued to stare at him expecting an answer… almost demanding one from him as she glowered up at him with growing impatience.

"She's in pain." He finally grumbled, for that was all he really knew for sure. "And I haven't got a clue as to where she is." He admitted as he stopped for a moment and threw open a door to a room that could in his opinion be used as a torture chamber, only to find it empty and so with a quiet cursed swiftly moved on.

"What kind of pain?" Willow asked as she quickened her pace to be able to walk on the other side of the tall menacing vampire that never failed to make her feel somewhat nervous.

Angelus' hands tightened into fists, swiftly growing annoyed with the questions in his current state. "The kind of pain a torturer usually inflicts." He gritted out. "Now, if you're done with your stupid questions, either help me search in silence or disappear!" He growled as he entered another hall.

The two vampiress' fell back slightly as they looked at each, before continuing on after him, unwilling to just sit and do nothing whilst their friend was in danger and not being familiar enough with the place to be able to search on their own; forcing them to accompany Angelus as he tore quickly through the Aurelius mansion in search of Buffy and the vampire who'd dared to harm her.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy scream filled the chamber once again; her voice growing hoarse and her throat burning from the many times her screams had filled this accursed room. Her scream died off as Darla released her newly broken rib… the older vampiress' work on them almost done; despite knowing that more pain was about to be racked through her when Darla plunged the knife into her flesh once again. She laughed; she couldn't stop herself. The sound bursting up from her as much as a surprise to her as it was to her torturer. "You laugh?" Darla asked. "I'm about to tear up another of your ribs and you laugh?"

Buffy chocked down the sudden laughter that had taken over her, coughing a couple of times in the process as she met Darla's eyes with the one that she had left. "Yeah, maybe I'm going insane." She murmured amusement still lacing her voice as Darla frowned at her, Buffy's response not soothing the feathers she had ruffled with her laughter. "Or, maybe it's because I know whatever you do to me… you are going to feel tenfold." 'He is coming.' "Karma's a bitch like that." She started to laugh again, relief and a sense of job filling her at the knowledge that he was finally coming… and he was more than just a little angry.

Darla punched Buffy insulted all the more that the impudent girl had dared to start to laugh again. Buffy spat blood out of mouth, the spittle mixed with blood hit Darla's cheek and she growled angrily. Buffy's screams once again filled the chamber as Darla plunged the knife into her flesh for what felt to her like the thousandth time; her scream growing shrill as she knew that worse pain was to follow.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Angelus snarled in growing fury as he turned from yet another room that had yielded nothing, but disappointment! Faith and Willow hurried to keep up with him anxiety growing in each of them as they took in just how furious and agitated the older vampire was… leading them to believe that Buffy was still being tortured and the longer it took them the worse the damage would be or even more horrifying they would reach her and she would be nothing more than dust… something that both them were scared of, making them wish that they could move faster. The two of them made sounds of surprise as Angelus suddenly stopped, causing the two women to look up at him in surprise, not having expected it after so long of hurrying about the mansion, attracting looks from those that they passed as they hurried by in what could be considered a frantic manner. But the look on Angelus' face had stopped any and all inquiry as to what they were doing.

"You boy!" Angelus snarled, his nose flaring in his anger at the scents coming off the boy. His mates and his bitch of a Sires'… Xander froze at the sound of Angelus' voice a whimper wanting to escape from him at the sound of the fury in its depths. Nervously and with much reluctance he turned to look at the vampire that had called his name to see him flanked by Willow and Faith who were frowning at him darkly; their noses picking up the same things Angelus' had although not seeing as much in it as he did. His gaze landed on Angelus' face and he flinched at the anger that he saw there and then before he could really think it through his legs bolted, not being able to stand in the face of such anger and wrath knowing that the older vampire would have no mercy for him once he discovered what he had done! And from the look on his face he knew what Buffy's fate was… and somehow knew that he was involved.

Xander didn't manage to get very far as Angelus chased him down; throwing the boy harshly into the wall making some of the stone crack and fall away from the force of it. Xander let out a fearful whimpering sound as Angelus' hand pressed against the back of his head; pressing his face firmly into the stone of the wall. "My old Sire's scent is all over you boy!" He snarled in Xander's ear, making the boy whimper once again.

Xander squeezed his eyes shut as he felt Angelus' hand increase its pressure against the back of his head, forcing his face to grind painfully against the stone. "I apologise if my making love to your Sire has offended you, A-Angelus." He pleaded.

Angelus gritted his teeth in no mood to even find the amusement in someone especially this boy of talking of love and his Sire in the same sentence. "Don't waste my time with games boy!" Angelus snarled. "You and I both know that it's not that you're fucking my Sire. I don't care how many times you've stabbed her with your prick! Now, tell me were that bitch is with my mate… or better yet show me!" Angelus ordered as he pulled Xander away from the wall to spin him around so that he was facing him, before he slammed him back up against the abused stone. "Or, see your heart parted from your chest before you die." He threatened, with a steely coldness to his voice that had Xander gulping fearfully.

Xander looked from Angelus' face that had never appeared so scary to his eyes before. He'd heard rumours of just how terrifying the Master vampire could be, but never had he seen it firsthand… never had he thought he would be in a position to see it firsthand! He turned his gaze to Willow and Faith who were both looking like they would skin him alive for sport and perhaps a lot more if he didn't speak up soon, but to his horror he found that in his terror he could not find his voice, so instead after an agonising moment of trying… he finally nodded. A squeal of terror escaping him as Angelus threw him to the ground. "I suggest you run to her." Angelus growled.

Xander didn't need any more prompting then that as he scrambled up to his feet and began running towards the unused part of the Aurelius mansion hoping to whatever was out there for his kind that Angelus took pity on him for his help in leading him to Buffy… and he prayed fervently that Darla had yet to kill her for he doubted very much that either of them would survive if Angelus arrived to find his mate dead and beyond his reach. And true death was definitely not something he was ready for!

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy screamed again, her throat and mouth parched and raw now as Darla finished with her last rib and stepped back for the moment as she drank in her handy work with pride. She believed that Angelus would be proud of the artwork she had worked with Buffy's body… if he was here with her…

Buffy watched Darla through her one eye her entire body seeming to thrum with pain now as the woman moved further away from her dumping the bloody knife where she had picked it up to what seemed to Buffy to be hours upon hours ago now and began perusing the other implements that she had brought into the chamber. Despite the fact that she knew that whatever Darla picked next would be far worse than a knife Buffy was glad for the small reprieve. It would hopefully be long enough for Angelus to find her before the torture could go on much longer. Her pride was completely shot now making the pain she was feeling all the worse. She was now at the stage where every little thing the woman did to her made her scream loudly as even her touch caused fiery pain to shoot through her battered and bruised body.

As if in answer to her thoughts the door to the chamber came open with a loud noise drawing both women's attention; their eyes landing on Xander who lay for a moment sprawled on the floor of the chamber, having been roughly thrown through the door, by a furious Angelus who stepped in quickly after. "I'm sorry, Darla." Xander whimpered, knowing that his love would be just as furious with him as the man behind him.

Darla ignored the boy her attention focused entirely on Angelus who was staring at his mate as she hung rather limply in the chains that bound her. "Angelus," Darla called softly as she took a cautious step towards him. "I'm almost finished." She assured him, gracing him with a smile. "Soon we'll be free of her. And we can go back to what we were."

Buffy forced herself to lift her head from her chest so that she could at her mate properly; the expression on his face one that would have terrified her if it was directed at her… if she was Darla she wouldn't be getting closer to him; she'd be backing away as fast as she could in an attempt to flee. Angelus forced himself to look away from his battered mate, the sight of her in such a tormented state causing his fury to rise. With as much control as he could muster he walked towards the weapons that Darla had arranged in the room; in what he thought a mockery of what he had perfected during his many years of debauchery and torture. Picking up the long sword; a weapon that he was sure his Sire had had no intention of using, but had wanted it there as a scare tactic, something he found tacky. What was the point of displaying a weapon that you had no intention of using… it was a waste of space and more often than not would get in the way…

"Angelus," Darla tried again, swallowing the fear she was beginning to truly feel at his reaction; she'd known him long enough to know when to be worried even when he seemed so calm. The rage she had seen on his face when he'd looked at the girl he had taken to mate still fresh in her mind. "You have to understand. I did this for you… for us. How can you not see that that little slip of a girl is beneath you?!" She asked.

Angelus ran his free hand up the length of the sword, feeling the sharpness of the old blade; perhaps his Sire had wanted to use it after all. With a quick movement Angelus spun on his heel and drove the sword deeply into his Old Sire's chest, and her expression turned to one of shock. "She is my mate, Darla!" Angelus growled as he shoved the sharp blade in deeper. He knew the wound wouldn't kill her, but it gave him pleasure to see it deeply imbedded in her chest. "You have betrayed me for the last time, Darlin'!" Angelus growled as he released the sword with a shove sending Darla stumbling back towards where Willow and Faith stood both shocked and horrified to see Buffy in the state that she was in. Angelus turned his gaze to them. "Make sure she doesn't go anywhere." He demanded, not caring which of Buffy's friends carried out his order.

Faith stepped forward almost at once; grasping Darla by the arm she threw her towards the wall where Xander had crawled over to when he realized that Faith and Willow weren't going to move away from the only exit to the chamber anytime soon. Darla gasped as her back slamming against the solid stone wall made the sword shift inside of her. "Angelus," She murmured her voice begging, but he didn't even give so much as an indication that he had heard her. "For her? You'd see me dead… for her?!"

Angelus' shoulders stiffened further and he glanced over his shoulder at her. "You broke your own Sire's laws… you saw to your own death." He gave her a cruel smile. "And it will be my great pleasure to see Nest take your life." Angelus turned away from her once again, his complete attention returning to Buffy once again, who hadn't said a single word as she stared him with only one eye her face and body ruined for the moment.

Buffy watched as he slowly stepped towards her, the anger fading from his expression to be replaced with concern. She flicked her dry tongue over her dry lips uselessly. "I-I feared you wouldn't come." She rasped out.

Angelus clucked his tongue at her and gave her a small smile. "Silly woman, of course I would come." He told her gently as he raised a hand to her face. Buffy flinched as his hand grazed her right cheek, not wanting him to touch her still healing eye. "Hush, Buff. I just want to see how much damage was done." He murmured.

"She thumbed out my eye." Buffy muttered darkly, her eye throbbing anew at the mention of the deed. Angelus gave her a look that told her that he wasn't going to give in and Buffy sighed as she forced herself to slowly open the closed lid of her right eye allowing him to see the ruin of her eye… an eye that was slowly regrowing… a regrowth that had been stalled to almost a halt by her loss of blood.

Buffy kept her eyelid open just long enough to allow Angelus a look at the damage before she shut the lid the air aggravating the wound. Angelus let out a deep breath as he saw the damage Darla had done to his girls face. "Angelus… do you think that you could get me down?" Buffy asked hopefully. She wanted to be free of the chains that had kept her helpless whilst Darla tortured her.

Angelus looked down at Buffy's torso taking in the broken ribs that were poking out of her chest, before looking back up at her face. "Not just yet, Buff." He informed her solemnly. "I'm going to have to push your ribs back into your body… it won't heal properly otherwise." Buffy eye widened and her unnecessary breaths quickened; she'd already been through a great deal of pain and now her mate was going to put her through more. "It's going to hurt a lot, Buff… so it's best that the chains remain for now… it'll stop you squirming too much." Buffy watched him as he moved away from her and picked up the blood stained knife that Darla had used on her before he'd come. Angelus turned back to her. "I'll try and do this as quickly as I possibly can." He assured her as he moved back towards her.

Buffy took a breath to steady herself as she met his brown eyes. "Just get it over with already." She gritted out from between clenched teeth.

Angelus nodded and moved to make the first necessary cut, before he hesitated and glanced over his shoulder to where Faith and Willow where standing over Darla and Xander making sure that neither of them made a move for the door. "One of you should get over here and try to distract her." He called over to them drawing their attention.

Faith and Willow looked at each other trying to silently decide which. "I'll do it," Faith decided, she'd known Buffy the longest and would stand the best chance of not being distracted by her friend's cries of pain than Willow.

"As long as red doesn't let those two overpower her." Angelus grumbled impatiently, wanting to get this over with so that he could get Buffy down and take her back to where she belonged… and could safely begin to recover.

Willow scowled determinedly. "Oh, don't worry." She said firmly as she reached out and grasped the hilt of the sword that was protruding out of Darla's chest. The older vampiress hissed as Willow pulled the sword out of her chest. "If she tries anything I'll hack off her head." She said determinedly as she held the sharp tip to Darla's throat. Darla looked up at Willow with a glare, angry that this had happened to her. This wasn't supposed to happen! She was supposed to have been able to kill Buffy and regain her Childe! Her boy, but he still didn't see… still didn't understand… that he was hers. But he would have if things had gone to plan… all she's needed was for that little bewitching bitch to be out of the picture! Willow turned her angry gaze to Xander. "And you, Xander Harris, don't think I won't secure you just a badly if you try anything!" She threatened and for the first time Xander was actually scared of the red head who he'd once been able to call friend, but from the look in her eyes; it was a privilege he no longer had.

Faith came up beside the metal board and placed a hand to Buffy's head, her hand feeling the softness of her hair, drawing Buffy's gaze. "You look like a mess." She greeted.

Buffy graced Faith with a friendly smile. "Ah, well you know me. I'm always up for a good time. Though I think this time I think I might have let it go a bit too far." She said with a sharp intake of breath as she felt the knife re-break the skin that had healed around one of the protruding ribs.

"Yeah, I think next time you'd best remember the safe word." Faith replied as she stroked Buffy's hair, and grimaced as Buffy let out a sharp cry that was hoarse and full of pain as Angelus pressed the rib back into her flesh. "Hey do you remember that time when…"

Angelus listened to Faith as she spoke softly to Buffy talking of old times that they had spent together… the adventures that they had shared as he worked on quickly getting Buffy's ribs back into place so that they could heal. The task was frustratingly slow as he had to make sure that he lined them up properly with the broken rib still inside of her and each cry of pain Buffy emitted was like a slap to the face. But even so he found that he enjoyed the stories that the two talked about as he worked; learning more about his mate's past as more time past as Faith did the best she could to keep Buffy as distracted as she could from what he was doing.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Sometime later Angelus carried Buffy out of the room she had been kept captive in whilst Darla tortured her, his arms cradling her against his chest. "Take those two to Nest and tell him what's happened." Angelus ordered Faith and Willow as the two herded Darla and Xander out of the room in front of them; keeping a tight grip on them and weapons at the ready if either of them tried anything.

Faith nodded. "Oh, don't worry. We won't leave out a single detail." She growled as she forced Darla to begin moving once again.

Darla made an attempt to reach for Angelus in a last attempt for her life and her Childe. "Angelus, please not for her!" She cried, but Angelus ignored her; his attention solely for his injured mate once again. And Faith forced her on, the brunette determined to see the vampiress responsible for her friends condition dealt with accordingly.

Angelus walked down the halls towards the room that was theirs, his mind bent on getting Buffy to its safety where she could begin the healing process.

***B/Aus***B/Aus***

Buffy groaned sharply as she was jostled and she opened her one good eye and saw that she was back in the room that had become her own and a moment later she felt the cool softness of the mattress. "Angelus," She murmured as her eye found him and she gave him the best smile she could muster in the state she was in. "You came for me… you really did." She murmured.

Angelus walked around the bed. "What else could I have done?" He asked rhetorically as he carefully lay himself down beside her; not planning on leaving her for anything in the world for a long, long time.

"You care." Buffy mumbled as she reached towards him and touched his hand with her own.

Angelus carefully shifted closer to her, his eyes focused on her bloodied face. "I love." He told her, causing Buffy's eye to shoot open as she turned her head to look at him.

Her gaze met his and she remained silent for a moment, before her tongue flicked out over her lips. "I believe that I could love you." She admitted. 'If I don't already.'

Angelus smiled and gave her hand a gentle squeeze. "Sleep, Buff. You need rest." Buffy looked at him for a moment longer, before she let the lid of her good eye close over the small globe. 'Yes, I believe that I could very much be in love with my mate.' She thought as she began to drift towards the rest she needed.

A/N: Alright, that's it for this chapter I hope that you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I've wanted to write most of the scenes in this chapter for a good long time… as in from the moment I started this story lol. Please let me know what you think :)