Chapter Thirty Two – Laughter
The demon's eyes opened slowly and Buffy waited until they'd focused on her before she smiled down at him. "Hey. How are you doing?" He started to sit up and Buffy pressed lightly on his shoulder. "Don't move, okay? You're still pretty banged up, but we got all the wood out of you and cleaned you up the best we could. The stone wasn't due to wear off for a couple of hours, but I thought I'd wake you up early and see if you wanted some blood."
She reached over to the night stand and lifted a large mug that had a bendy straw sticking out of it. "I've fed Spike like this, so I hope you know how to work one of these." She held the mug close to his face and he eagerly wrapped his lips around the straw and sucked. Buffy's smile widened. "Guess you do." She lightly touched the IV tubing that was taped to his forearm. "We've been trying to give you blood like this, but the whole no circulation thing is kind of working against us."
The demon cut his eyes to his arm then looked back up at her face, smiling around the straw, and Buffy laughed quietly, "Yeah, I'm an idiot, I know. You don't have to rub it in." She waited until he'd finished then plopped the straw into a second mug and held it for him as she reached out and gently rubbed at the fuzz on his head. "This is a special treat, too. Since I can't give you my blood until I talk to Spike, I found something almost as good."
The demon looked at the mug of blood then stopped sucking and held some in his mouth, rolling it around. He swallowed then started sucking even more eagerly and Buffy giggled. "Yeah, it's Sire's blood. He wasn't all that happy about bleeding for the cause, but it's stronger and better for you than normal human blood, so he can just deal with being your juice box."
The straw went into the third mug and it was emptied in short order with much satisfied smacking of the demon's lips. Buffy set the mug on the night stand as she asked, "Want more?" He shook his head then looked at her hand. His eyes were pleading when they settled on hers again. "You want me to pet you some more?" He smiled, the tips of his fangs peeking out from under his top lip, and Buffy rested her hand on his head and started to stroke his hair. "You're like a big cat, aren't you?" She giggled when he started purring and pushing his head into her hand. "Yeah, just like a big cat."
She petted him for a while, and when his eyelids started to droop she asked quietly, "How's Spike? Do you know if he's okay?" The demon opened his eyes all the way and frowned, shaking his head slightly. "He's not okay?"
The demon snarled quietly and a look of intense concentration settled onto his face. Buffy stopped petting him and waited while he tried to do whatever it was he was trying to do. Finally, a voice sounded from his throat, but Buffy couldn't quite make out what he'd said. It was like Spike's voice, but deeper, rougher, more guttural, and she whispered, "Can you say that again? I didn't get it."
The demon screwed up his face in concentration again and grunted out one word, "Trapped."
Buffy undid the straps holding the ball gag in place then removed it. Angelus stretched his jaw then licked his lips and sneered up at her. "Not bleeding me this time, huh? Decide you want to play instead?" He licked his lips again then looked pointedly at her crotch. "Just put that gag down and climb on up here. I promise I won't bite… much. Just enough to replace the blood you stole to feed that worthless little shit."
"Ew… God. No. And stop whining about the blood, you big baby. After what you did to him, giving him your blood so he can heal is the least you can do. And you're going to keep doing it, so suck it up." She dropped the gag on the floor and crossed her arms over her chest, holding back the wince when they touched her still sore breasts. "I'm here to ask you some questions, and if you don't help me or I think you're lying to me, then I'll punch you in the nuts. And if you keep lying or not helping, then I'll keep punching."
Angelus looked at her for a few long minutes, weighing the sincerity of her words, then he sighed and tipped his head back. "Questions about what?"
He lifted his head and peered at her. "What about them?"
Buffy backed up and sat down on the chair she'd brought from the dining room. "Well, when you lost your soul and went evil, were you full demon or was some of your human side there, too?"
"I was full demon." He sneered again. "Your tight little pussy squeezed all the humanity right out of me even though you had no clue what you were doing."
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Nice try, but I'm not seventeen anymore." She smirked. "And I didn't know what I was doing?" She pointed at him. "Pot. Kettle. Black." She shrugged. "At least it didn't last very long. Now Spike, on the other hand, should have a cape or something. He's Mr. Stamina Man. Hours and hours." She smiled at his offended snarling then nodded toward his groin. "Back to my question. And keep to the point or I start punching. Your demon can talk. Full conversations, complete with threats and everything."
Angelus stopped snarling when he realized he wasn't going to get a rise out of her that way and sighed, "Yeah. So?"
"So why can't Spike's? He's aware and he understands me, but he can't speak except for a few words. Why?"
Angelus threw his head back and laughed. "Because his demon is useless! Weak and useless!" Buffy stood, balling her hand into a fist, and Angelus choked down his laughter then squeaked, "No! I'll tell you!"
Buffy sat back down and laid her fist on her thigh. "So tell me."
Angelus sighed. "Vampire demons come in all shapes and sizes. No two are exactly the same…" He smirked. "We're all special… like snowflakes." Buffy clenched her fist tighter and Angelus hurried to continue. "Think of them like those 'Evolution of Man' charts. You've got Neanderthals at one end and modern man at the other. They're all bipedal and intelligent in their own way, but they're worlds apart in their abilities. Spike's demon is from the caveman side of the chart and mine is from the modern man side. Mine can speak, reason, plan, and execute. It can function in a modern world. His can do what's necessary to survive, but that's pretty much it. It's nonverbal except for basic words, and it has no planning capabilities at all. It relies on the leftover humanity to navigate its world, but without it, like I said before; it's nothing but instinct and base desires."
"Okay. He said that Spike's trapped. Trapped where?"
Angelus' brow furrowed for a few seconds then he sneered. "Awww, did little Willy fall down the rabbit hole?"
Buffy gave no warning this time. She stood and punched in one fluid motion then calmly sat back down and examined her nails while Angelus wheezed and coughed. When he'd regained some measure of control, she said quietly, "That's one. The next time you say something unhelpful or untrue; there will be two, and then three… You see where I'm going with this?"
He coughed out, "Yeah, I get it," then took a deep breath. "You're more like me than you care to admit, aren't you?"
Buffy scowled. "No. I'm not. I don't enjoy this, but I'll do it if I have to. That's where we're different. You like hurting people. I don't."
Angelus snorted. "Whatever helps you sleep at night."
Buffy rolled her eyes impatiently. "Just tell me what I want to know." She curled her hand into a fist and thumped it once on her thigh. "Or else."
Angelus eyed her then swallowed. "Okay. Uh… it sounds like his mind has been fractured. I don't really know how to explain it, but… okay, um… Spike has a demon, his humanity, and a soul – three individual entities that usually work together… or at least co-exist in equal measure – but now it sounds like his humanity has withdrawn and left his demon in charge of things."
"So where's his soul?"
Angelus shrugged, forgetting about the chains and clamps for a moment, then he winced and shot Buffy a glare. "I have no idea. When he broke during training, his demon withdrew, leaving his humanity… and probably his soul… to bear the torture. Now that his demon is out front… maybe that's why it's so docile. The soul is controlling it."
"So how do I get his humanity to come back?"
"I don't know." Buffy stood and Angelus recoiled as much as he was able as he squawked, "I swear! I don't know!"
Buffy smiled and bent to pick up the gag off the floor then she held it up. "Open up like a good boy."
Angelus moved his head back as far as he could. "I told you what you wanted to know. I helped you."
"And look how I'm not punching you in the nuts. I never said anything about the gag."
"You're a real bitch, you know that?"
Buffy shrugged and said, "Yeah, that's not really news," as Angelus reluctantly opened his mouth. She seated the ball and tightened the straps then patted Angelus on the head. "Who's a good boy? You're a good boy!"
He jerked his head away from her and glared as she laughed and turned away. She stepped into the hall and Dawn fell into step beside her. They went into Buffy's bedroom and took up positions on the bed, one on either side of Spike. Buffy lifted his hand and held it in her lap then looked over at Dawn. "You get all that?"
Dawn nodded as she leaned down and lifted a square of gauze, checking the puncture wound underneath. "Yeah. Still don't know why I couldn't be the one to punch him, though."
Buffy sighed. "I know he knows you're here, but I don't feel like dealing with all the crap he'd say the minute he saw you. Okay? Can we just keep my baby sister away from the disgusting, perverted vampire? Please?"
"How's he going to talk if you've got him gagged?"
"Ugh… so not the point, Dawn. Can you humor me just this once? I know it's hard…"
Dawn rolled her eyes then huffed, "Fine. I'll stay away from the perv." She patted the gauze down carefully and sat up. "So we sort of know where Spike is, but we have no idea how to get him back. What Angelus said made it sound like Spike did this to himself, but his demon said that Spike's trapped. How could he trap himself?"
Buffy's brow furrowed then her eyes widened and she blurted out, "It's his slave training that's trapping him! Spike's been fighting it since he came back to himself. He made it sound like a drill sergeant or something, someone yelling at him all the time, telling him what to do…"
Dawn jumped on the train of thought, "And if Spike already has three people, or things, or whatever inside his head, then why couldn't he have one more?"
Buffy nodded. "Now all we have to do is figure out how to make it let Spike out."
Dawn nodded to the collar Spike still wore. "It thinks you're his owner, right? So order it to let Spike out."
Buffy frowned at the collar. "How? Tell the demon? I don't think he's under the control of the training. He's been in hiding pretty much the whole time, so he probably doesn't have any sway. The demon may not even know how to talk to, or interact with, or even find the training, you know?"
Dawn nodded. "Yeah, but maybe you could talk to the training now, while the demon is… Wait, is he unconscious or asleep? Did you use the stone again?"
Buffy shook her head. "No, he's just sleeping."
"Where's the stone?"
Buffy fished it out of the pocket of her sweats. "Right here. Why?"
Dawn took it and touched it to the base of the demon's skull. His body relaxed even further and Dawn looked over at Buffy. "Okay, so with the demon kind of out of the way right now, maybe you could talk to Spike's subconscious or whatever, like hypnosis or subliminal messaging. I read somewhere that you can get someone to quit smoking if you whisper it to them over and over while they're asleep. I thought about trying it on Andrew to get him to be just a little less annoying… and it could be bullshit, but… it's not like we're sitting in a soft, fluffy pile of options."
Buffy shrugged. "It's worth a shot, I guess. Can't really screw things up any worse, can I? What should I say?"
"Say that you want Spike out here right fucking now. Be forceful. Be mean if you have to. Threaten it with punishment." Buffy blanched then looked down at the relaxed features of the demon and Dawn reached across him and grasped her hand. "Put some Slayer behind it, Buffy. Get mad."
"Get mad. Be forceful. Right." Buffy nodded and started to lean down.
Dawn whispered, "I'll watch, and if anything changes, like his demon starts to recede or he blinks or anything, I'll wake him up. It won't do any good to call Spike out if he gets stuck in an unconscious body."
Buffy nodded. "Okay. That's a good idea," then she muttered, "Get mad. Be forceful," under her breath as she placed her lips next to Spike's ear. She closed her eyes for a brief second then said in a low, menacing voice, "You get out here right now, slave. You hear me? I want to be serviced and I'm tired of waiting."
Uposs let his foot fly out, smiling when it contacted Spike in the kidney, then he stood back. Spike was huddled on the ground in front of him, bloodied and battered, but he'd stopped trying to protect himself or cover his ears. Now he just grunted every time a kick landed and flinched at the harsh words still being whispered to him.
Uposs started to lift his foot for a stomp then stopped and looked up, surprise on his face. "Well, well… looks like she's going to keep you after all. For a little while, anyway." He reached down and hefted Spike to his feet. Spike wobbled quite a bit, but didn't fall, and Uposs shoved at his back. "Get moving. Your owner wants service and she wants it now." He shoved again, causing Spike to stumble, and then he laughed. "Guess she wants to get some use out of you before she kills you. Wonder if her sister is going to watch?"
Spike shook his head, trying to clear it, or at least make some kind of sense out of what Uposs had just said. Buffy wants me to service her? But she said she didn't want me to. She said she loved me. His shoulders slumped as he trudged along. Selling Niblet out to Liam must have been the straw that broke the camel's back. Uposs is right.
Buffy looked up at Dawn and mouthed, "Well? Anything?"
Dawn shook her head and raised a hand, clenching it into a fist as she mouthed back, "Threaten it!"
Buffy grimaced and nodded then placed her lips at Spike's ear again. "You've got ten seconds to get out here or I'll flay the skin from your back! You'll think your trainer's punishments were a cake walk by the time I'm done!"
Uposs laughed as he pushed Spike along in front of him. "Sounds like you're in for it now. She's tired of waiting and she's getting ready to whip the skin off your carcass. Guess you shouldn't have hung around here so long." He reached out and stopped Spike's forward progress then spun him around. "Time to service your owner." He laughed again. "Don't know how you're going to manage it with your dick the way it is, but… guess there's always your mouth. You'd better do a good job, too. I can't be there to keep you in line with that damn demon on the loose, but I'll bring you back here when you're done, and if you screw this up, I'll show you what happens when you defy me."
He reared back and punched Spike hard in the jaw and Spike flew backwards into the darkness, followed by the sound of cackling laughter.