Sorry for the lateness in posting. I don’t have writer’s block or anything like that (knock on wood), it’s just that real life stepped up and knuckle punched me right in the forehead and I’ve been dealing with some stuff. Posting might be a bit erratic until I get it all sorted, so I hope you’ll bear with me.
Chapter Twenty Two – Blood
He nodded, then seemed to remember that he could speak, and said quietly, his voice still raspy and rough, “Yes, I know who you are. I remember.”
Buffy smiled through her tears. “So, does this mean that you’re… back? You’re you? I mean… earlier, with the looks, and the lip, and everything… that was classic Spike, and that’s the first I’ve seen of him since you got here.”
He shook his head, dropping his eyes to his lap as he cleared his throat again. “I remember everything from… before. Events, people… but… there’s something missing. My demon…”
“Your demon isn’t missing; it’s just hiding because those assholes kept removing your fangs.”
Spike’s eyes closed and he mouthed a few words that Buffy couldn’t make out then he brought his right hand up to his mouth, slipping his index finger under his top lip to rub at his gums. His hand lowered and thumped onto his leg and he whispered, “Remember that, too.”
Buffy squeezed the hand she was still holding. “Your trainer said your fangs would be fully re-grown in about a month. Did you feel them just now? Are they there?”
He lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “I think so. Won’t know for sure until I change… I tried to earlier, but…”
“Nothing happened.” Spike nodded dejectedly and Buffy squeezed his hand again. “I’ve been giving you my blood, and if I keep doing that, your demon might come out.”
Spike opened his eyes and gazed intently at her, all the ramifications of freely-given Slayer blood suddenly tumbling through his mind in a jumbled clump. He took a moment to sort through it, and when he had, his gaze became even more intent. There were only a few Slayers in the vampire lore he’d been taught, not even a dozen, that had been documented as freely giving their blood to a vampire. But not just any vampire. Yes, a Slayer could give her blood once or twice to a random vampire and the end result would be a slightly anemic Slayer and a well fed vampire, but when there was a bond of some sort between the pair – usually romantic love, but there had been one documented case of siblings – and the blood was given several times, then the freely-given blood would bind them together. The vampire would be unable to exist for very long without regular doses of Slayer blood, and if the vampire dusted, the Slayer would die shortly thereafter, usually by her own hand.
In almost every instance, either the vampire’s sire had dusted the vampire or the Council had killed the Slayer, leaving one of the pair to die a painful and lonely death. One pair had been captured by the Council and had been imprisoned at separate ends of the country to investigate the strength of the blood bond. After only six weeks, the vampire had managed to dust himself by clawing out his own heart, and the Slayer, after feeling her vampire dust from hundreds of miles away, had beaten her head against the bars of her cell until she’d caved in her skull.
Only one pair had managed to escape judgment by either side, and they’d only managed it by disappearing altogether. They’d stayed hidden – foiling every attempt by the Council and the vampire’s clan to locate them magically or by other means – and the world had been without an active Slayer for some fifty years, leading to a dramatic increase in the European vampire population during the Late Middle Ages. A little know fact – to humans, anyway – was that a fair number of people thought to have been killed by the Black Death had, in fact, been killed by the influx of vampires.
Spike continued to gaze intently at Buffy, trying to absorb the importance of what she’d done. Did she even realize what she’d done? Surely she’d been educated on the effects of her blood on a vampire, not just as a healing agent and aphrodisiac, but the effects of giving her blood several times to a vampire she loved. And he now knew without a doubt that she did love him – now that he was concentrating on it, he could feel the beginnings of the ties that would irrevocably bind him to her if she kept giving him her blood – but did she have any clue what she’d almost signed herself up for? If she stopped feeding him now, the ties would fade – causing him more than a little pain as they did – but she’d be fine. But if she kept feeding him and the ties locked in, then did she have any idea that he would need to feed from her regularly or he’d go crazy and try to dust himself?
Only one way to find that out, he supposed. He’d have to ask her. She’d been sitting quietly as he sorted through his thoughts and he tried to lessen the intensity of his gaze just a bit. He didn’t want to scare her, but he had to make her understand what she’d done. He rasped out, “I know you’ve been giving me your blood. Just don’t know why.”
Her face screwed into the patented Sunnydale ‘DUH’ look and she said, “Because I love you… duh.”
He had to cough a few times before he could ask, “And you know what will happen if you keep giving it to me?”
Her brow knitted and her nose wrinkled up in that way he’d always found to be completely adorable. “You’ll get fat? Do I have fat blood?”
Spike burst out laughing at that. It was so Buffy. He laughed and guffawed and chuckled and chortled for a good five minutes, and by the time he’d stopped, his throat was on fire and tears of mirth were streaming down his face, but he felt wonderful. He hadn’t laughed that hard in a long time, since before Drusilla had been attacked in Prague, and it felt good.
Buffy watched him laugh with wide eyes for a few seconds and then she joined in, even though she still had tears on her face from her impromptu cloud burst a few minutes ago. Yeah, he was laughing AT her, but she didn’t care one little bit because he was laughing! She’d never seen him laugh like this, with such freedom and abandon. It made him beautiful. Of course, he’d always been beautiful, but now… he was transformed… so beatific that it almost hurt her eyes to look at him.
And while she didn’t like to be laughed at – who did? – for Spike she’d gladly put a rubber glove on her head and run naked through the Vatican yelling, “Hi! I’m a squid!” if it would get him to laugh like this again.
The chuckles and titters from both of them slowly tapered off and they just sat smiling at each other for a few long minutes until Buffy asked, “So, if my blood won’t make you fat, then what will it do?”
Spike started to speak, but all the laughing and the coughing and the fact that he hadn’t used his voice at all for years made his words come out as a rough whisper, “Your Watcher didn’t tell you about blood bonds?”
“No, he didn’t.” Buffy stood and picked up the tray. “And you won’t be able to tell me about them with your voice like that. Let me make you some more tea.”
Spike watched her walk into the kitchen and listened to her move around as he tried to order his thoughts, to find the best, most succinct way of explaining it to her. It would take time for his voice to recover and he didn’t want to tax it unnecessarily before he was healed, but he had to make her aware of what her choice meant… and find out if she wanted them to be bound together for the rest of her life. His fingers drifted up to touch the skin below his collar and he closed his eyes. The collar she’d put on him was enough to keep him with her, especially if his demon remained MIA, so if she decided to forego the blood bond… he grimaced and dropped his hand.
Yes, the collar would keep him here whether he wanted to be here or not – he couldn’t force himself to get up and walk out of her life any more than he could flap his arms and fly to the moon – but… she could still make him go… get rid of him. She could take back her collar and toss him right out on his arse anytime she wanted to and there wouldn’t be anything he could do about it. The collar was a one-sided affair, but the blood bond was a two-way street. The blood bond would keep him from leaving and stop her from binning him, but could he do that to her? Let her continue to give him her blood, effectively forcing her to keep him around? He shook his head. No, he couldn’t. She loved Spike, and he wasn’t Spike… not yet… and until he was, if that ever happened, he couldn’t let her tie herself to him… not the way he was now. So he’d have to stop drinking her blood.
And there was the rub. He couldn’t refuse. If she ordered him to drink it, he would, and it would only take a few more servings – maybe as few as two or three – before the bond would be permanent and she’d be stuck with him. And if he never got his demon back… if he never became ‘Spike’ again, then she’d be stuck with a useless lump of slave that was good for nothing but supplying orgasms. He wouldn’t be able to back her up in a fight, he wouldn’t be able to help her save the world during the next apocalypse… and he’d be in the way if she ever fell in love with someone else. He’d be nothing but a dependent leech, feeding from her like a babe on its mother’s teat.
The thought of Buffy sharing her life and her bed with another man stabbed into his heart and twisted, skewering the shriveled organ on a sharp sliver of pain. A scenario of what his life would be like when Buffy finally got tired of him and went looking for the type of man she needed… the type of man she deserved… suddenly played through his mind like a horror film. Buffy wouldn’t be able to just dust him and be done with it because of the blood bond, so she’d keep him in a closet, out of sight and out of mind until it was time to feed him. He’d be the useless little slave, bound and gagged as he knelt in the dark, his one purpose… his only reason for existing… taken away. He’d have to listen to Buffy and some faceless male shagging like bunnies, taunting him with their sounds of pleasure and satisfaction while he knelt, silent and weeping in his pitch-black cell.
Buffy walked back into the living room, thankfully startling him out of his dark and disturbing thoughts, and set the tray down on the table. Instead of just two mugs, she’d brought the entire tea kettle, swaddled in a blue tea cozy that had embroidered black and white cows all over it. She squirted a generous dollop of honey into his mug then poured steaming tea into it, stirred it, and handed it to him. “Here. Drink this and try not to talk too much right now. I’m sure that explaining whatever my blood does will take a while and it can wait until your throat is better, okay?”
Spike nodded and took the cup, sipping at the hot tea. Okay, she didn’t want to delve into blood bonds just now, which would be fine as long as she kept asking him if he wanted blood, allowing him the chance to say no. But if she just handed him a mug and told him to drink it like she had with the tea… He had to get his blasted demon back. That would put an end to all this slavery shit. Once his demon returned, he’d be able… hopefully… to send Uposs packing and be the man that Buffy wanted. The man he’d been all those years ago before he’d been broken. The man she loved. And he wouldn’t have to spend the rest of his existence kneeling in a dark closet while Buffy lived and laughed and loved with someone else.
An unstoppable shiver traveled down his spine as the question of how she looked exactly the same after all this time suddenly popped into his head, bringing with it all the other questions he’d been unable to satisfactorily answer. He’d been gone for years and she hadn’t looked for him. But she loved him… well, loved Spike, anyway… he knew that, could feel it in the beginnings of the blood bond, so… why wouldn’t she try to find him? Why would she just leave him there? He frowned at his tea cup as he lowered it and cradled it gently in his hands, resting them in his lap.
Buffy noticed his frown and asked quietly, “What is it, Spike? Is something wrong with the tea? Do you want a cough drop or something instead? I think I have some.” He looked over at her and shook his head and she could see the question in his eyes. “Do you want to ask me something? You can if you want. You can ask me anything.”
Spike cleared his somewhat soothed throat and his still hoarse voice was full of despair when he said, “You didn’t look for me. You left me there.”
Buffy recoiled like she’d been slapped. “Spike, no… I didn’t leave… I wouldn’t do that. If I’d known… Angel told me last week that you were in the infirmary, recovering from getting your hands cut off.”
Spike’s eyes widened and he blurted out, “Last week? But it’s been years…” then he started coughing, his tea sloshing over the edge of his cup to soak his sweat pants. He hissed loudly at the pain, but thankfully the hot liquid had landed on his leg instead of more delicate areas – missing his balls by the barest of margins – and yes, he knew what it felt like to have boiling liquid poured over his balls.
Buffy jumped up, heading for the kitchen, and came back less than thirty seconds later carrying a tube of burn gel and a damp dish cloth. She took the mug out of his hand and plopped it down onto the tray. “Get out of those and I’ll treat the burn.”
Spike immediately stood up and the injury to his abdomen once again reminded him of its presence, but he was able to suppress the wince. He untied the knot in the string then slipped the pants down over his hips. Buffy squatted down beside him and took over once the waistband had made it to mid-thigh, sliding them the rest of the way down. “Sit back down.” He did and she lifted each foot, slipping the pants off him completely. She tossed them aside then knelt in front of him and picked up the dish cloth from the arm of the couch, laying it gently over the reddened skin on his upper thigh.
He just watched as she lightly patted the cloth then lifted it and used a corner to wipe up a few dribbles of tea. “It’s not too bad. At least you’re not blistering.” She opened the tube of burn gel and squirted a healthy dollop onto her index finger then dabbed it gently over the burn, coating every bit of skin that was even slightly darker than his normal alabaster shade.
The gel felt good, cool and soothing, and Spike sighed, “Thank you, Buffy,” then his eyes opened wide. Uposs hadn’t made a peep. Not one. It hadn’t said anything at all about sitting there while his owner treated his wound – something she shouldn’t have even concerned herself with. In fact, Uposs hadn’t been heard from since it had reminded him not to touch his collar. Was it gone? Or was it just being quiet because he hadn’t attempted to do anything that she hadn’t given permission for or ordered him to do?
A test then. He lifted his hand off his leg as he said in his head, “I’m going to touch my collar,” then he jumped in surprise when Uposs practically shrieked at him that it wasn’t allowed. Spike lowered his hand with a tired sigh. So… not gone then. Bugger.
This was personal.
He hefted the strap of the heavy bag a little higher on his shoulder and headed out the door. The pilot closed it behind him then went back to the cockpit to make arrangements for the return trip. The plane would be fueled and ready when he returned with his traveling companion, and he smiled as he strode quickly toward the terminal. At least the wait had given him time to come up with the cover story he was going to use to convince Buffy that he meant no harm to either her or Spike. Of course, he did mean them harm… well… to Spike, anyway… but he’d never be able to leave with his toy if he couldn’t talk his way past Buffy.
Liam stepped into the terminal building and made his way through the throngs of passengers standing around in clumps as they waited for their bags. He felt good… like he had just before he’d found Drusilla. A thought struck him and he stopped suddenly right in front of the exit doors, the woman behind him bumping into his back. He turned and snarled at her, his eyes flashing amber for just a second, and she mumbled a hurried apology and scurried away, clutching her purse tightly to her chest.
The thought hadn’t been squashed by the woman’s clumsiness and it brought a grin to his face. He was finally in control of his mind, his body, and his future. It had taken over 120 years after he’d been turned to win the fight for control over the demon, but he’d successfully harnessed it. He’d kept using the name ‘Angelus’ because it was a name feared the world over and to change it would have meant building his reputation from scratch. Subjugating the demon’s power and knowledge for his own use meant that he’d finally been able to fulfill all the dark desires he’d had as a human – desires that he hadn’t had the ambition or intestinal fortitude to attempt while his heart had still been beating – and Drusilla and William… not to mention countless innocents… had enjoyed his ‘attentions.’
As a human, he’d been a lazy, pathetic souse… spending all his time drinking and bedding any wench that showed him the slightest interest… and more than a few who hadn’t shown him any interest at all. The most evil thing he’d done while he’d still been living – to his mind, anyway – had been arranging to have his family’s servant girl dismissed for stealing then threatened with imprisonment if she ever spoke to anyone about the family. She hadn’t stolen a thing, but Liam had needed her gone because his forced use of her had filled her belly with his child, and if his father had found out, he’d have been the one kicked out of the house. He’d ended up being kicked out a few months later anyway, and after he’d been turned, he’d found the hovel she was living in and had ripped the nearly full-term infant from her womb, sinking his fangs into the bloody squirming thing while she watched, her screams ringing in his ears.
But now things were back to normal – like they had been before those Gypsies had cursed him with the soul of his infant daughter. Cursing him with his own soul wouldn’t have even been a punishment, considering how tarnished his soul had been, but the cage of a pure, innocent soul had driven his demon mad – mad enough to try to end the world when that moment of pure happiness had broken it free a few years ago. His daughter’s soul was still in residence inside him, but now it was suppressed to such a degree that it might as well not be, and the demon was strapped down tight – able to make suggestions and bolster its host’s natural penchant for sadism and mind-fuckery, but not able to push its host aside and run amok like it had in Sunnydale… killing teachers and fish and doing all manner of stupid things that had only served to piss Buffy off enough to run him through with a sword and send him to a hell dimension for a few centuries. What was it the kids said now? Oh yeah… That had totally sucked. But at least it had been the soul and the demon that had borne the torture, leaving Liam alone to formulate plans and mostly be bored until the Powers had intervened.
Sending Spike to fulfill the bargain in his place had been necessary, because he sure as hell hadn’t wanted to spend another decade being bored while the demon and soul were tortured, but shipping a broken and helpless Spike to Buffy had been stupid. Liam would have chosen a different option if he could have, but at the time he hadn’t been in full control yet. He’d been nearly there – he’d already harnessed the demon, but while he’d been busy trying to suppress the soul, the demon had managed to slip free of that harness and had taken over at the most inopportune time… just after the old man had agreed to accept Spike in his place… and the demon had decided that Buffy needed a gift , climbing right back on the Train of Stupidity it had ridden through Sunnydale.
Of course the demon had chosen a gift that would devastate Buffy completely because she’d either have to dust Spike or send the broken thing away… and either scenario would cause her pain, something the demon enjoyed immensely… hence all the torture porn it had amused itself with while Liam had been busy trying to stuff his daughter’s soul into a teeny, tiny box. He’d finally managed it while the demon had been busy watching – and tossing off to – the images of Spike’s slavery, and then Liam had worked to slip the demon back into its harness while it had been distracted.
The latest struggle to regain control over the demon had only taken him just over 100 years – if you didn’t count the time spent in other dimensions, which Liam didn’t – and he’d been battling both the soul and a crazy demon, but now Angel was suppressed and Angelus was securely bound. Liam was back! Fully and completely back!
Liam smiled wickedly as he pushed through the front doors and hailed a taxi. “Daddy’s finally in control again, Little Willy, and you’ve been a naughty boy.” He reached back and patted the bag hanging over his shoulder. “I think we’ll have time for a little punishment before we go home.”