A/N: Warning: Some blood and torture, and references to Bangel-ness. I thought I'd get through the next scene or so, but as usual it got longer than I expected. Enjoy!
Chapter 15: Abandoned
Buffy was aware she was having a nightmare, but it didn't help her wake up any faster. She was standing on the lawn of the burned down church, a blackened heap of ash and rubble all that remained of St. Claire's. Members of the fire department moved hazily around her, hulking shapes in red and yellow suits. Policemen were there as well, and one of them knelt in the center of the charred pile and drew a chalk outline in the ash… where Spike must have burned.
"Poor little dog…"
Buffy whirled around and found herself face-to-face with Drusilla, robed all in black and with a semi-transparent veil covering her head and billowing gently around her in the soft wind. The vampire reeked of dark power, as though she'd bathed in the perfume of rotting fruit and poisoned roses.
"You… you're dead," stuttered Buffy, staring at the female vampire. "You burned, too…"
"No, no," Drusilla gave a sneering laugh. She brushed her hands together, and black cinders floated away on the wind, leaving her pearl-colored skin unharmed. "Only William… you burned him, sunshine. Lit a little flame in him, and he became too hot to touch. Crisped and blackened… like toast. He stank of you, little Slayer."
Buffy narrowed her eyebrows in confusion and then glanced back at the white chalk silhouette, his unmarked grave.
"I'm sorry," she whispered, feeling herself being drawn out of the nightmare and back to reality even as the words left her lips.
She blinked, scared by the darkness that greeted her eyes. Her hands clutched at the covers against her bare skin… and only then did she realize that she was alone in Angel's bed.
"A-Angel?" Buffy whispered, her voice sounding shy and perhaps a little shameful. She sat up gingerly, holding the sheets over her chest. "Angel?"
The apartment was empty besides herself, the sparsely furnished room seeming larger and less friendly in the darkness. She wondered if it was morning yet… but no, if it was morning, he wouldn't be outside…
Then she felt the blood. The tops of her thighs were damp with it, as were the sheets underneath. She shifted to try to avoid the slickest spot, and the movement tugged oddly at her body, making her aware of soreness in places she'd never really known she could feel. Tears prickled in her eyes, but she blinked them away and mopped herself off, putting her clothes from the night before back onto her shaking body.
Where did he go? Why didn't he stay?
She figured the only thing important enough to draw him away would be if somehow Drusilla and Spike had survived the burning church. The memory of the crack and look of pain on the blond vampire's face started plaguing her again, and Buffy tiptoed out of the apartment into the pre-dawn darkness, once again feeling like she was fleeing red-handed from the scene of a crime.
Her house was empty and quiet – Mrs. Summers still at her gallery event of the weekend. Buffy wearily wondered if her mom would bother coming back for Thanksgiving on Thursday, or if she'd stay in LA for more holiday events. Rich people always seemed to want new paintings and interior décor around a holiday.
Maybe it was better for her to not be here. Buffy sincerely wondered if she would be able to meet her mom's eyes if she saw her. She felt achy… and used.
Trembling more intensely, Buffy ran upstairs to her bedroom, grabbed a change of clothes, and plugged up the sink in her bathroom before adding some hydrogen peroxide and putting the blood-stained garments in there. She showered, scraping her sponge over her skin with much more force than typical exfoliation required, scrubbing off the feel of the blood even after she was completely clean. And the ashes… that was something else she couldn't seem to scour away… the smell of the smoke of St. Claire's…
He felt pain, and little else. A white-hot, smothering stinging – the burns, he knew it must be – and duller but still significant throbs all over his body – bruises marring his flesh, the marks of small, precise Slayer fists. The greatest agony of all was the intersection of dislodged bones in his vertebrae, which grated against each other like grinding metal every time he made the slightest movement. Everything from his lower back and down was completely numb and didn't respond to his attempts to move, and yet it still hurt somehow, intense phantom pain. His throat was bone-dry, and his belly cramped with hunger… with thirst.
Dru… where's Dru… gotta… gotta g-get her out…
He shifted, trying to raise one arm and move whatever debris was burying him, but the pain that shot through his back was so intense that he blacked out almost instantly.
"Don't worry, dear heart…" a velvety, powerful voice echoed through the smog of agony that clouded his brain. "You didn't burn… not yet… not enough. Mummy will fix that…now that Daddy's back…"
Once school was done for the day, they drove Kendra to the airport in Giles's grey Citroen. Sitting in the back squished between Willow and Xander, Buffy didn't have much room for thinking. She knew a part of her would miss Kendra, miss having someone else who really and truly knew what it was to be The Chosen One, feeling the pressure of the Slayer's destiny. But she also desperately wanted to be alone with her close-knit group, to not have the pressure of a near-guest in their midst. She needed to talk to someone… maybe Willow, maybe Miss Calendar… or else the quaking queasiness in her mind and heart would overwhelm her. But she also needed to find Angel.
After getting Kendra though security and making sure she would sit in the actual passenger section of the plane – not in the cargo hold, like during her route to Sunnydale – Buffy slipped away from the others and headed for Angel's apartment again. She hadn't realized until she started to smell the smoke that her route would take her right past the remains of the church. It was completely burned to the ground, nothing but a pile of blackened frames, embers, ashes… Spike and Drusilla's ashes, no doubt. Maybe a teaspoon sized part of her brain felt like screwing up his plan to revive her was fitting revenge for his own attack on Parent-Teacher Night, which had turned her own plan into a debacle. But mostly, she just felt like a dirty cheat, having to hit him on the back of the head and knock him into an unstable pipe organ instead of fighting him to a fair finish.
Shuddering, Buffy continued down the side streets and alleyways that led to Angel's apartment, places that still seemed swathed in darkness and shadows even though the sun was still hanging above the horizon. She reached the door, tried the handle, and found it unlocked, so she slipped inside. Her eyes fell first on the made bed, on the red silk shirt lying on it, and then on Angel, donning a necklace and looking entirely restored from the light burn marks on his chest.
Buffy threw herself into the apartment and wrapped her arms around his chest, relief flooding her. Stupid irrational fears. Drusilla's dead. Spike's dead, and Angel's fine. Last night was… was good…
"Hey," Angel grinned, hugging her.
"Oh my god, I was so worried." She thought for a moment that he felt just slightly colder, maybe a bit firmer in the chest and arms.
"I didn't mean to frighten you," he answered, his tone dismissive of her fears. Buffy released him and stepped back to look into his face.
"Where did you go?"
"Been around," he shrugged, stepping toward the bed to retrieve his shirt.
"I… I was freaking out. You just disappeared."
"What? I took off." His voice was even more indifferent, as though he thought her concern trivial and childish.
"But… you didn't say anything. You just left," Buffy mumbled.
"Yeah," said Angel, a slight scoff in his tone as he pulled on his shirt and began buttoning it. "Like I really wanted to stick around after that."
Buffy felt like her stomach had just been transformed into a solid hunk of ice.
"You got a lot to learn about men, kiddo," Angel chuckled. "Although, I guess you proved that last night."
"W-what are you saying?" stammered Buffy, almost in tears.
"Let's not make an issue of it, okay?" He turned his back on her and picked up one of his black velvet coats. "In fact, let's not talk about it at all. It happened."
"I… I don't understand. Was it me? W-was I not… good?"
He snickered. "Buffy, Buffy… It was pretty obvious you didn't have a clue."
She felt like she'd been clubbed in the guts. "How can you say this to me?"
"Lighten up," he continued chuckling. "It was a good time. It doesn't mean we have to make a big deal."
"It is a big deal," Buffy protested, her eyes wet and her hands shaking.
"It's what?" he rolled his eyes. "Bells ringing? Fireworks? A dulcet choir of pretty little birdies?" He snorted another laugh. "Come on, Buff. It's not like I've never been there before."
He lifted his hand as if to stroke his thumb along her chin, and Buffy jerked back before his fingertip could make impact.
"Don't touch me."
Angel made a little click noise with his tongue. "I should've known you wouldn't be able to handle it." He stepped around her, towards the door.
"Angel!" Buffy cried, hinging on desperation. This can't be happening. It's got to be a cruel joke. How could he treat me like this, after…? "I l-love you," she whispered to the side of his face that had turned toward her.
He just grinned. "Love you too." He opened the door, revealing the soft pinkish-orange glow that lingers after sunset. "I'll call you."
And then he stepped out into the night, leaving a distraught and confused Slayer behind him.
Opening his eyes, Spike blinked until the singed skin of his eyelids didn't sting quite so much. He turned his head slightly to the side, but even the small motion drew a ragged groan of pain from him. At least he could see his surroundings now, a large and unfamiliar room with stone walls, decorated by a few tapestries in muted earthy colors, burnt oranges, reds, and greens. The ceiling was high and made of a dark wood, and the floor was also grey stone, seemingly a single piece. A candelabra hung high above him, candles flickering in the midst of the ornate metal bracket, and on the far wall a pair of manacles were suspended from one of the stronger-looking beams of the ceiling.
He lay on what he thought was a bed, though his skin was so charred and seared that it was hard to tell. He also had the strangest sensation that his clothes had been removed, and another squinting glance around the room revealed his duster, jeans, red overshirt, and black tee on a chair near the door. The knowledge gave him a more intense feeling of vulnerability, as though he needed it, already badly burned and paralyzed too, if his numb legs were any indication.
"D-Dru?" Spike called out, and the sound of his own voice was unfamiliar, scratchy and dry.
He heard a faint sound, footsteps brushing lightly upon the stone of an adjoining room, and saw the only door to the room creak open.
She radiated power like a strobe light, a kind of surging aura that wouldn't be visible to the human eye, but that his vampire senses could perceive clearly. She still wore the black gown from the ceremony, but with the way she carried herself, it seemed to be an entirely different garment, molding more perfectly to her figure, flattering her. She was his goddess, utterly restored to glory.
"Darling…" He tried to smile at her, even though it hurt terribly. He thought he could hear his burned skin cracking as his mouth attempted to curve upward. "You… look amazin'…"
"The pixies sing loudly again, pretty Spike. I'd almost forgotten how clearly I could hear them. They tell me… everything…"
"W-where are we, luv?"
"A new castle," she purred. "A fitting place for Daddy and his princess."
Discouraged, Spike swallowed, feeling what must have been a lump of ash travel down his throat.
"Love, I… I'm a bit thirsty…" He licked his cracked lips. With the kind of energy flowing through her right now, he guessed it would take mere drops of her sire's blood to repair his back and legs and scalded skin. So simple, compared to the months he'd struggled to restore her…
"Hmm, yes," Drusilla said idly, her gaze flitting about the ceiling. There was a meek knock at the door. "Enter," she ordered, and Dalton waddled inside, her silver pitcher in his hands.
"Your w-water, princess," the bookish vamp whispered in a tremulous, obsequious tone, fearful of her wrath. He held out the pitcher toward her as though it was an armed bomb.
"Dalton?" Spike barked out, though lifting his head to see the crony more clearly renewed the pain in his chest. He tried to sit up using his elbows and noticed for the first time since regaining consciousness how his hands were arranged. His wrists were bound with black silk ribbons to the headboard, knotted and braided in delicate patterns that were nevertheless too secure for his exhausted body to pull loose.
"He can't help himself," sighed Drusilla, her eyes on Dalton. "So many empty little heads. Swish, swish." She waved her hand in front of her face, nails extending towards an imaginary person standing in front of her, and Spike instantly knew what she had done. With her full power reclaimed, Drusilla had put all of their vampire minions under a unified thrall, compelling them do to her every bidding.
"Now, run along," Dru instructed, taking the pitcher from the quavering Dalton. The bespectacled vampire gave one fearful look at Spike, and then turned tail – damned obedient little clod – and exited the stone room.
Carrying the long-necked jug of holy water, Drusilla approached the bed. "Poor little white knight… all blackened and burned now…"
"I'm sorry, luv," he whispered, eyeing the silver pitcher warily. He flexed his wrists, but the knotted ribbons held. "If… if I could just have somethin' to eat, I'd heal. Won't take long."
"No," she regarded him coolly. "Can't heal from this. Must be burned out. You've been a very bad dog…"
"D-Dru?" Spike gasped, his eyes wide with horror, desperately hoping the sound of his voice would draw her out of her intent. "Dru, baby, what've I done?"
"Hush!" she snapped. "Mummy has to teach you a lesson. Burn the goodness right out of you, just like Daddy taught his princess."
"Dru… no! N-no, princess, please…"
She trailed one sharp fingernail down his chest, drawing a thin trickle of blood. The macabre map of Sunnydale that she'd scratched into his chest months ago had partially healed before the ritual, and the parts that hadn't were now masked by burns. Raising the pitcher and ignoring his begging cries, she let a tiny stream of clear fluid fall from the spout and onto the cut. It bubbled in the wound like hydrogen peroxide, but with ten times the stinging power.
Spike screamed helplessly.
"There, now," she frowned, regarding him as though he was a grade school child who'd misspelled a word in his copybook. "Must try again, pretty Spike. Must wash away every trace."
"Drusilla!" he sobbed, his head thrashing and his broken body shaking as more water streamed over his skin and collected in the hollows formed by his musculature. "Please! Please, Dru, please! Please!"
"Having fun with your dog, Dru?"
She whipped around, holding the half-empty pitcher aloft. Angelus stood in the doorway, a grin of almost voyeuristic wickedness on his face.
"My Angel…" beamed Drusilla. "You've come home."
Spike bit down hard on his lip to bottle up his cries of pain. Just as he had sensed Drusilla's restoration, he could tell by the other male vampire's stance – the tilt of his head, the mocking tone of his smile – that his soul had fled the coop, and the demon was back in the driver's seat.
Oh god… Buffy…
"Still having trouble guarding your perimeter, brother," Angelus smirked mockingly down at Spike. "Your boys by the door are going to wake up sore."
"They're my boys now," pouted Dru, though her eyes were still smiling at her sire. "And I should be very cross with you…"
"I think you'll find it in your heart to get over it."
"So… no more of this 'I've got a soul' crap?" asked Spike, though he regretted drawing Angelus's attention to himself.
"What can I say?" Angelus shrugged. "I was going through a phase."
"Everything in my head is singing," whispered Drusilla, rising from the bed and setting the pitcher aside. "We're family again. We'll feed, and we'll play…"
Spike couldn't help but notice how her eyes slid over him on the last word, but there was no hint of amorous intent in her eyes, only the warped glee of taking pleasure in another's torment.
"You couldn't imagine all the… conflict I was feeling yesterday," Angelus said in a mockingly anguished tone, his gaze on Spike. "I mean… having to make a show of being so guilty when she was practically getting me off, right in front of you." He smirked and slid his hand down the front of Drusilla's black dress.
Spike felt sick to his stomach.
"The stars told me this would happen. That my Daddy would return… and now we can destroy the world…"
Angelus rolled his eyes and stepped away from Dru. "Eh. Destroying the world's great and all, but I'm really more interested in the Slayer."
She's alive. Spike watched him, keeping his face from showing any reaction of relief, which wasn't hard to do considering how stiff and burned he was. "Well, she's in the world, so it should work out."
"She made me feel like a human being," said Angelus darkly. "That's not the sort of thing you just forgive. I've already started in on her. You should've seen her face. Priceless."
"You don't just want to kill her, do you?" Drusilla whispered, her head tilted a little to one side. "You want to hurt her… just like you hurt me."
The smile of desire on her face made Spike's heart clench in despair.
"Nobody knows me like you do, Dru," grinned Angelus. "Say… I feel like going out tonight. How 'bout a party, babe?"
Drusilla bobbed on the balls of her feel, clapping her hands in merriment. "Ooh! There's going to be a river of blood."
"Be just like old times," Angelus purred. He grazed a hand along Spike's thigh, and though the blond couldn't really feel it, it made his skin crawl all the same.
To be continued...