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Buffy leans against the railing, enjoying the sensation of the chilly salt breeze that bathes her skin. Her eyes drift shut. She fills her lungs and slowly lets the breath go. Falling…or was that ‘falling now’? A wry grin momentarily warms her impassive features. Been falling. Falling for years. Fall long and hard enough you sort of begin to get it figured. Eventually I think I grew wings—the metaphory kind.

Her eyes open. She peers down at the darkness below. We all died that year. It wasn’t just me. It takes some time and some scrunching, squinting and blinking for her eyes to adjust. Eventually, she’s able to make out choppy water below. Yeah, okay…so for me it was a little more literal, but—

Funny thing about death—there’re worse fates. The death of hope, the death of innocence—both are much worse than the real deal…or at least more painful.

I mean—yeah, we kept on, we fought, struggled, more of us died…literally.

Could be this place that’s making me crazy. Even in the middle of the night without another soul on deck, the huge ship beneath her feet thrums with life. The constant pitch and yaw is unsettling. It’s never quiet here. And I’m never alone.

Several semi-peaceful moments pass before the sound of distant footsteps makes her point for her…and sends her shrinking into the shadows. I’m so not in the mood. Weird, I crave company, but I’d rather be alone. I guess there really is no pleasing me. Silently, she moves across the expansive of deck, crouching behind riggings, hatches and the bases of cranes. Basically, one metal box after another. They’re a thing here. Some short, some tall. Some part of the ship, some not. Or could be it’s just the company that’s—

It’s a serious problem. Even from here, I smell him. Understanding what Angel and Spike both meant is more than a little gross. I could’ve lived with never being able to relate to that.

I would’ve been perfectly contented going to my grave again without ever knowing that seamen—the nautical kind—only bathe about once a week. At least, I guess that’s it. Haven’t exactly made their hygiene a study. Actually, I’ve been avoiding. This guy reeks so bad, I smell him even with all of the other pungent, chemically, fishy, oily, rotten odors on this ship.

I may never eat seafood again.

The heavy clomp of booted feet draws closer, bringing her to a stop. Being out in the open like this makes her nervous, but feelings of foolishness and impatience finally take their toll. This is silly. He’s way over there. And I’m over here on the other side of this huge cargo hatch, hold access thingy. I bet you could park three city busses on it. And it’s not like I’m exactly clumsy, so…

Moving again, she listens to his footfalls pass. He doesn’t falter, which means he’s clueless.

I got myself into this mess. Guess that means there’s no one else to blame. But that doesn’t mean I don’t wanna. It’s not like I was trying to screw up. I didn’t make a conscious effort. You just have to be a little lost—a teeny bit out of control—to think, ‘Yeah, Scotland. Why not? That sounds cool.’ Totally falling. Not flying. No compass. Spiraling.  

It wasn’t cool. Not falling anymore. At least I don’t think I am. My answer to the current crazy wasn’t exactly genius. It wasn’t really even all that mature. But it works. I feel better. Even if did sort of I decided to take my ball and go home. Go figure, I ended up booking passage on the Good Ship Catastroflop to get there.

Hunched over, Buffy dashes across an open area to a gangway that runs the length of the bridge castle. Her goal is just ahead. About halfway to the aft deck she stops to open a door that leads into the bowels of the ship. Life onboard the Cairo has been nothing if not interesting. Meeting someone always means a leer or a not-so-cleverly couched innuendo or both. ‘Clever’ is the last thing these guys are. Thankfully, no one greets her this time. That means that instead of cold cocking some repulsive troll, she’s able to make her way downstairs. Two decks down she pokes her head through a hatch to take a peek before she sets off down a long, narrow corridor. Y’know, I used to think that it’d all be okay. Even when the crap was so thick I couldn’t see the other side, I just knew we’d make it through. At the first intersection, she turns left. I haven’t thought that in so long I forget how it feels.

There’s nothing warm about this place. It’s like living in a giant tin can. Buffy unlocks the door to their small, cluttered cabin, whispering, “Honey, I’m home,”as she pulls the lever and opens it. No one returns her greeting. Her heart sinks. Okay, so…there’s one warm thing. Figures she’d be missing.

I should go look for her.


Oh, I don’t know. She stops mid-turn and instead enters the room, shutting the door behind her. No. If she did that to me, I’d be upset. She’s not here, so I have to assume she wants to be alone. I need to let her have that. It’ll be okay. This isn’t that unusual.

Well, I guess it’s a little weird ’cause she said she’d be here working, but neither one of us leaves this room much, so… Maybe she just needed to stretch her legs.

Probably. It’s not like we’re really welcome here. We don’t get much opportunity to do that.

Shrugging, she locks the door and begins to undress. Actually, we’re too welcome…and not in the good way. Only vampires and refugees travel this way, so I guess it figures that two almost, kinda, sorta normal girls would attract some attention. At least we look normal.

Because we’re not normal, we’re also good for a radical increase in the number of random accidents suffered by the crew. No broken bones so far, but lots of scrapes, cuts and contusions. 

I shouldn’t worry. Worst case they’ll find another purser strung up by his coveralls from a derrick in the morning. The last one was kinda funny, so…

Buffy folds the blankets down and crawls into bed. She’ll be fine.

Buffy had been feigning sleep up till now. She had to have been. There was little way that she could’ve slept through the attention she was getting. Her slow, rhythmic breathing never faltered as Willow nibbled at her neck. The blankets were in the way. Willow pushed them down, uncovering Buffy’s breasts, only to cover them again with wet kisses.

Maybe Buffy really was asleep. The faint hitch in her breath and the soft sigh that followed as Willow fondled and suckled her nipples seemed to say so. She wasn’t so deeply asleep that she didn’t respond. Her legs splayed open as Willow kissed and groped her way lower, shoving the bedclothes out of the way. 

Willow settled curled up between Buffy’s thighs. In a flourish of movement, she twirled her hair around her hand, letting it fall down her back. A quiet chorus of contented sounds accompanied her as she rolled her head, drawing a mouthful of Buffy’s nether lips up with her tongue. She lapped and sucked, massaging the sensitive tissue with her mouth.

After several moments of next to no response from her lover, Willow picked herself up. On hands and knees, she made her way to the head of the bed to straddle Buffy’s face.

That was what it took to finally get Buffy’s attention. Dim awareness turned acute. She stirred and looked up. The first thing she focused on was the beaded golden ring that pierced the wet, engorged wedge of flesh that shrouded Willow’s clitoris. She blinked and licked her lips. Mild confusion reflected in her features as her eyes raked over Willow’s hairless pubic mound, the floral motif tattoos trailed across her stomach, encircling her right breast, and the rings in her nipples. The confusion lifted when their eyes met and Buffy smiled.

Willow grinned impishly down. “Morning, lover,” she cooed. Her fingers laced through Buffy’s hair as she lifted her head.

Buffy tried to reply, “Quite the—”

That didn’t work out so well. A little ‘woo’ probably wouldn’t have gone amiss, but Willow had other plans. The greedy witch filled her lover’s mouth.

Buffy reached up. Her hands followed the line of Willow’s slender belly, trailing over her ribs to cup her breasts. Willow’s nipples poked between her fingers. Buffy tugged on the ring with her lips as she bore down on Willow’s nipples.

One might’ve thought that a metal ring through such tender flesh should be treated with care. The way the surrounding tissue stretched when Willow fell back invalidated that assumption. She caught herself with her left arm. The perky little nubs tried to slip through Buffy’s fingers, but she held tight.

Willow let out a spine-tingling groan. She didn’t let go either. Her right hand held Buffy’s head, pinning her. Buffy continued to aggressively knead and lap the swollen flesh with her mouth, eliciting a broad range of approving trembles, grunts and moans from the witch. She gulped in air through her mouth between licks. Willow’s head was thrown back. The tips of her hair flogged Buffy’s pussy. The harder she sucked, the more pressure she put on Willow’s clit, the more Willow trembled and the more her hair swished and swatted. Buffy angled her hips to increase the contact, but that apparently wasn’t enough. When she reached down to touch herself, Willow seized her wrist.

Two pairs of handcuffs hung from the outer post of the bed’s footboard. Without releasing Buffy’s wrist, Willow stretched to reach them. She dropped one pair on the bed next to her calf. With a flick of her wrist, the cuff closed over the wrist she held. She pulled Buffy’s arm to the corner of the bed and closed the other cuff around the bedpost. Her crotch ground against Buffy’s chin as she leaned back, then forward to snatch, cuff and secure Buffy’s left arm to the other bedpost. Willow got up, shoving Buffy’s head to the side with her thigh. She went to the foot of the bed, grabbed Buffy’s ankle and towed her down.

The handcuffs bit into Buffy’s wrists. “Oww,” she yelped. “Hey, what’s up with you?” She scooted up when Willow turned her back. Viscous fluid drenched her chin and neck, collecting in the hollow of her throat. It looked like she’d been eating the messiest, slipperiest, clearest ice cream cone ever. When she tried to wipe her mouth with her shoulder, hair stuck to her face. She sputtered and spit.

No answer came. Willow went to the drawers built into the cabinet below the sink and opened the second one down. A quick search through frilly, colorful, silks and satins yielded a tiny toy surprise. It was strange that she’d gone for something so small. She palmed the pocket vibrator and turned around. Buffy’s brow furrowed like she didn’t quite get it either.

Willow jerked the covers off the bed. They landed in a heap on the floor. She positioned herself straddling Buffy again. This time she was facing the other way. “Fuck me with your tongue,” she said. Her toes slipped under Buffy shoulders as she lowered herself.

When Buffy didn’t immediately do as told, Willow sat up, grabbed her thigh and pinned it to the bed, exposing her bottom. Buffy let out a surprised squeak when Willow swatted her. It wasn’t a playful tap. A loud clap rang out. “I said fuck me,” she commanded.

The cheek of Buffy’s ass blushed pink where Willow had struck her. “What’s wrong with you?” she demanded.

Willow answered her with pain, taking Buffy’s clit between her thumb and forefinger and bearing down. “I said fuck me,” she repeated.

Tears welled up in Buffy’s eyes. She blinked them away. The pain eased when she raised her head and buried her face. Without her arms to steady herself this was obviously a clumsy and all-too-quickly painful thing to demand. The struggle caused her to shake. When her tongue slid out too far, it took her a moment to recover.

Another swat seemed eminent when Willow inclined Buffy’s hips again. It didn’t come and she let go. Buffy held the pose, even exaggerating it a little. Her head nodded and bobbed as she lapped at Willow’s pussy.

The little vibrator Willow had fetched hovered in the air just above the mattress. She picked up a tube of lubricant and removed the cap. The vibrator rotated as she applied a thin coat. She screwed the cap in place and lined the vibrator up, then in one deft, magically-assisted move, Willow penetrated Buffy, not once, but twice. She caught Buffy’s clit between her fingertips, pressed and swirled.

For a moment Buffy looked like she’d swallowed a great big bug. Her eyes went wide. Her head fell back, bouncing against the mattress. She let out a groan. Willow slipped her fingers out, adding another. A stream of incoherent, guttural sounds followed as Willow began to fuck Buffy in sharp, quick, vigorous strokes. The fingertips of her other hand turned tight circles, mashing all of those other wonderfully sensitive forward-lying bits and parts. Willow made quick work of reducing Buffy to a twitching, trembling, needy mess.

Then she stopped and slid her fingers out. “I told you to fuck me,” she said. “It was a simple request. You can’t even do that right.”

Buffy’s body sagged flat against the bed. She looked hurt. Another sharp swat made her whimper. “What’s gotten into you?” she asked.

The only reply Willow offered was another swat…and another and another. She didn’t stop paddling until Buffy met her demand, then she pulled the vibrator out.

The chill of more lubricant brought Buffy to a halt. “I thought we had this talk,” she said. “I told you ‘no’.”

The word ‘no’ came out as a pitiful squeal, because Willow put the vibrator back. “And that might matter if I cared,” she replied through a laugh. “Look, Buffy, this could be so much worse. I could be using my hands. Or maybe a different toy? Remember that big one I bought as a joke? Wouldn’t that be fun?” Another sharp swat punctuated the question. “Now, fuck me or I’ll go find it.”

Their exchange left Buffy aghast. It was clear she couldn’t imagine what she’d done. She winced when Willow’s hand clapped against her ass again. As Willow rubbed, turning her whole bottom rosy, Buffy did as she was told.

Willow turned the vibrator to high, pushing it deeper and pulling it out, causing Buffy’s body to malfunction. She trembled and jerked. When she stopped to take a breath, Willow slapped her ass, clipping the end of the vibrator too.

Buffy’s head fell to the bed. She arched her back, panting and begging, “Oh, god, please. I need you.” Another swat came in answer. She found enough control to lift her head as the third swat landed. She grunted as her tongue pressed inside Willow. 

“Now my clit,” Willow panted. Buffy bent her neck to do as Willow asked. Her tongue swirled once and Willow said, “My pussy.” She dipped her head and Willow said, “My ass.”

Buffy froze. “No,” she replied. Her answer was firm and decisive.

Willow responded with another swat. She kept swatting. Buffy lowered her legs to protect her bottom. Willow struck her hip. Even when Buffy took the ring between her lips and pulled, Willow hit her. She didn’t stop until Buffy stretched and licked.

“Good girl,” Willow said. “A little lame, but it’ll do.” She reached back, taking the crown of Buffy’s head to press her point. “Next time I want your tongue buried inside me.” She wiggled her hips. “But mostly what I want is for your face to match your ass the next time I see it.” She let go and turned her attention to Buffy’s crotch. Buffy had dropped her legs. Willow lifted them, exposing her bottom. The vibrator had started to slip. She pushed it back in. “Now, my clit.”

Buffy looked wounded and confused, but she did as Willow asked, sucking folds of flesh into her mouth.

“My pussy.”

Buffy dipped her tongue.

“My ass.”

When Buffy froze again, Willow got up. “I love it when you look at me like you’re clueless.” As Willow seethed, she grabbed Buffy’s legs, rolled her onto her side and blistered her butt. “You know that you’ve been naughty, but you’re just not smart enough to figure it out.” Her voice lurched with each swing. “It’s pitiful, y’know? The truth is usually right under your nose.”

Willow had gotten her wish. Buffy was utterly mortified. She wept like a little girl. It was obvious she couldn’t understand why Willow was being so mean to her.

The beating ended. Buffy took hold of the chains to ease the tension on her wrists. They were chaffed and scratched from pulling against the cuffs.

Willow crossed the room again in search of something else to play with. A larger toy was in her hand when she turned around. Despite the threats, this was still pretty human-sized. Maybe a little longer than usual, but not overtly so. She went to the foot of the bed and craned over, moving Buffy’s leg so she could see. The small vibrator had slipped out. She picked it up by the very end and dropped it onto the floor.

A mood shift had happened. Buffy was having trouble keeping up. She grabbed hold of the bedposts, unsure what to expect as Willow leaned down. When Willow’s mouth touched her pussy, she was no less clueless. It didn’t take long for her not to care. Soft lips pinched closed, Willow’s tongue darted out, swirling over Buffy’s clit. She lapped and sucked and stroked. Buffy moaned. Things were just getting good when Willow decided to move on. Buffy opened her eyes.

Willow was grinning and holding the dildo up so Buffy could see it. She squeezed some lube onto the shaft and smeared it around.

A knot formed in Buffy’s throat as Willow lowered it. As the tip of the dildo pressed pushed inside her, she said, “No,” again. Same thing. Same squeak.

Willow didn’t let up. She turned the vibrator on and pumped it in and out, burying it a little further with each stroke.

Tremors racked Buffy’s body. She let out cry after cry, begging Willow to stop. She didn’t sound very convincing with all the panting and grunting. For something that obviously grossed her out, she sure seemed to enjoy it. Her cries turned to pleas, “Oh, God. Please, I’ll do whatever. I just let me feel your mouth again.” She rolled her hips, moving the vibrator by grinding the end against the bed when Willow finally did stop.

“I thought you hated that,” Willow teased.

Buffy opened her eyes and looked down.

Willow was uncoiling a length of rope. “Be a good girl and lift your ass,” she said.

Buffy didn’t question. She seemed strangely calm as she planted her feet and lifted her backside up.

Willow wrapped the rope around her waist, weaving it between her thighs and wrapping the base of the dildo to secure it in place.

The shaft of the vibrator buzzed between Buffy’s clenched cheeks. Holding herself up required an act of sheer willpower. Her body twitched as Willow tied.

When Willow was done, she commanded, “Drop your ass and spread your legs. I want to see your pussy.”

Buffy didn’t argue.

Willow pressed the dildo in and swatted Buffy again. “I think you like this,” she said. “I’ve always suspected that what you really wanted was for someone to paddle and fuck that tight little ass of yours.” She took another swing.

Buffy cried out. Tears leaked from her eyes as Willow produced more rope. This time she bound Buffy’s calves to her thighs and tied them off to the bed frame. The final length of rope went to wrap around her waist and tie her body down. Buffy watched, helpless to do anything.

Willow got up, stopping to pinch and pull Buffy’s nipples.

A moan slipped, unchecked from Buffy’s mouth.

“Now what am I going to do with you?” Willow asked.

“Make love to me,” Buffy begged. Her body trembled, causing her voice to shake. “Please. I want your mouth on me. I want your tongue inside me. Make me cum, please.”

“Yeah, right. I think I should let you stew for awhile,” Willow replied. “I want to hear you beg.” She took a seat at her desk. “Convince me.” Her chair rocked back on two legs. She balanced it with the balls of her feet.

As Willow’s hand dipped between her thighs, Buffy pleaded, “Please, I’ll do anything, whatever you ask. Please just touch me.” 

Willow smiled. “Not good enough.” Her hand swirled. She moaned and threw her head back as her fingers probed.

Buffy grew quiet. She was barely able to move. Tensing her stomach muscles felt good. She hunched and relaxed and hunched and relaxed. The rope pulled tight and loosened as she wiggled. Her body trembled with pleasure. She panted and moaned. The bed frame chattered as her body shook, a bundle of aching need that cut to her core. Desperate, she said, “I swear. I’ll do anything you ask.”

Willow was deep in the throes of another orgasm. Her hand pumped rapidly, pounding the flesh between her thighs. She cried out with pleasure. It was surprising she didn’t go over backwards. Her body calmed. “Anything?” Willow asked. She lifted her head. “What would you do? I want details.”

“I’ll do whatever you ask. Anything you want. Please, just touch me,” Buffy begged. It was funny seeing her try to do this. Dirty talk really wasn’t her thing.

Willow got up and went to the sink. She washed her hands and stooped to open the drawer.

That made Buffy anxious. She pulled at the handcuffs. Maybe she was trying to work up the nerve to break free, but she never got there. She saw the harness as Willow took it from the drawer. All she could think to say was, “Please.” She took a breath. “Please, fuck me. Oh, God, please.”

“And what will you do for me if I fuck you?” Willow asked.

Buffy said, “I’ll—” but her voice broke. She swallowed. “I’ll do whatever you ask, whenever you ask it. I’ll be yours for as long as you want. I’ll—”

A much wiser person might’ve seen past the smoke and mirrors, but that wasn’t Buffy. She was too caught up in the drama and titillation to understand that she was giving Willow exactly what she wanted. The smug smile on the witch’s face spoke volumes to that end. She’d been dolling out just enough honey with the vinegar to throw Buffy off balance and keep her confused. And the poor simpleminded girl was most likely going through a list of things in her mind that she’d be able to do and get over.

“I’ll do whatever you ask,” Buffy repeated, providing confirmation with her sincerity.

Willow wanted to humiliate her. She wanted Buffy to grovel. She wanted to push, break limits and boundaries. She wanted Buffy to do something she didn’t want to…and make her love it. Willow buckled the harness on. She came to the foot of the bed and stood, sizing Buffy up for a moment before she reached down. “You want more of this don’t you?” she asked, reaching down to touch the end of the dildo.

A rash, “Please,” rolled off Buffy’s tongue.

Willow laughed, took hold and pulled the dildo out, then pushed it in deeper.

Buffy looked surprised for only a moment until muscle spasms wiped her expression clean. The bed creaked. Ropes cut into Buffy’s stomach and thighs. As Willow worked the dildo in and out, Buffy cried, “Oh, God!” Her voice cracked. “Please touch me.”

The trembling didn’t end when Willow stopped. Buffy shook as the witch climbed on top of her. Willow held the base of the dildo that hung between her legs. Its tip pressed into Buffy. She removed her hand and jutted her hips out, burying its shaft.

Buffy’s face drew with pain. She grunted, sucking in several sharp breaths in a row. It obviously hurt at first, but as Willow rocked her hips, rolling them and occasionally bucking because the pressure felt good to her too, Buffy got over it. A stream of guttural sounds passed through Buffy’s lips. Her head dug into the mattress. The bed rattled as she thrashed. Buffy came. She came again and again. Between orgasms she angled hips down to lessen the impact.

This was supposed to be one of the most intense sexual experiences a woman could have. It’s little wonder that Buffy lost herself. She was so consumed that she missed everything.

Willow’s body bowed as she bent to sweep Buffy’s left nipple into her mouth. She suckled and hunched. There was no rhythm to it. She’d stab twice, hard. The base of the harness would crush against Buffy sending her into a fit of tremors. Willow would buck and shudder, grinding, mashing… Control returned, Willow would slowly pull out and pause for a moment before driving the length of the dildo into back into Buffy’s core. Blood trickled from the corner of her mouth, painting a line down the curve of Buffy’s breast. She fed slowly, quietly, hiding the act behind a shroud of ecstasy.

A litany of ‘yeses’ rang out. Buffy was getting close. Willow stopped cold. It was maddening. Buffy looked up, baffled and lost. Tension built in her face as she made a fist and wiggled her fingers. Everything that had been fleeting came back for an instant. It slipped away when Willow moved. On the second stroke, Buffy threw her head back and cried, “Don’t stop.” Willow’s hips jerked. “Please, don’t stop.” She buried her face in the curve of Buffy’s neck. Buffy gasped when she felt the pinch, but Willow erased the sensation with another thrust. “Oh, God!” Buffy’s voice trembled as her body racked.

When the spasms ended, Willow raised her head. The stillness caused Buffy to open her eyes. Blood bathed Willow’s chin.

Buffy mouth fell open. She stammered, “No.” It had to be a trick. Her mind was playing tricks. She blinked. Nothing changed.

Willow looked down on Buffy. Contempt reflected in her yellow eyes. “You promised you’d do anything. I want you to drink,” she said. “But you promised you’d protect me too.” Her face shifted. “And you failed me, so I guess I can’t expect much. I’ll just do it myself. I’m going to bleed you and you’re going to drink. You’ll join me if I have to pour it down your throat.” She paused a beat. “You’ll heal and I’ll cut. That should keep us busy for awhile. We’ll see how long it takes me to get bored.” She smiled a gruesome smile. “You know how I get when I’m bored.”

Willow lay sprawled on the bed, fondling her pussy to pass the time. Her eyes raked over her progeny’s lithe body. Buffy hung by her arms in the corner of the room. Her shoulders were severely deformed from the beating she’d taken. Only the tips of her toes met the ground.

“My first instinct was to kill you. But then, what fun would that’ve been? I’d rather play. Play is much less boring.” Willow’s irises darkened as she focused her power. A deep incision laid the slayer open from the hollow of her throat to her groin. The flesh knitted as the first drops of blood seeped from the wound. Willow beamed like a proud mother. Random gashes crisscrossed Buffy’s limp form. Each one healed almost instantaneously. “Oh, you’re perfect,” Willow cooed.

Several dreary moments passed. Willow went from fondling to fucking. She was so wrapped up she almost missed it when Buffy began to stir. Not that the stupid slayer waking up was any reason to delay a perfectly good orgasm. She finished herself off. As she moaned, Geppetto’s favorite daughter tried to lift her head. That didn’t go so well. The best Buffy could do was open her eyes. Her chin dug into her chest. Flexing her arms made her whole body shake. Her face contorted with pain.

Willow turned onto her side, taking her head in hand. “Might wanna quit while you’re behind, lover,” she said. “See, both your shoulders are—” A quirky little shrug affected mostly the angle of her head. “Well, I sorta broke you. Bet ripping your own arms off would be all kinds of no-fun.” She snickered. “Although I am a little curious how that’d go. I’m not even sure what you are now. You were a super-duper concentrated slayer before. Add ‘vampire’ to the mix and who knows? So if you’d like to indulge my intellectual curiosity, go right ahead. I won’t stop you.”

“Let. Me. Down,” Buffy fumed. Her attitude was punctuated by not much else. She’d taken the hint. Her posture was stiff as a board.

Willow rose from the bed to approach her helpless mate. “You sure that’s what you want?” she asked, sounding genuinely curious. “It could be worse. You can never tell about these things.” Her fingertip followed the line of the first incision she’d made as she spoke.

“Why, Will?” Buffy’s question was met by a chilly laugh. The skin around her eyes wrinkled as she closed them and bore down. They blinked open. “Why couldn’t you just let me die?”

“Oh, Buffy,” Willow chided as she magically manipulated the handcuff locks. “I’d think you’d be able to figure that one on your own. But if you need help, let me make it simple for you.” The cuffs came free. Buffy fell, crashing onto the floor in a heap. Willow drove her foot into Buffy side. The crunch of cracking bones delighted her almost as much as Buffy’s cries of pain.

“I know you better than anyone,” Willow said as she tipped her desk, scattering all of its contents on the floor. “I know you’d rather die than become a vampire.” She moved the desk into the middle of the room. “Do you think I haven’t watched?” Buffy was magically lifted into the air and came to rest lying supine on the desk. “But enough idle chitchat.” Buffy’s body bent, rolling into a ball with her bottom in the air. “What I think you really want is for me to play with that pretty little ass of yours some more.”

Folded like she was, Buffy had a perfect view of her crotch and not much else. Her shins were pinned to the desk, held by an unseen force. One of her arms rested behind her, pinned to the desk too. The other dangled over the side. Willow lifted her dangling arm, placing it beside the other as a length of rope snaked up the desk leg and over Buffy’s calves. The rope twined beneath the desk and across its top, wrapping around again and again.

Buffy wasn’t interested in any of that. Her attention fixed on the cross that hovered above her face. “So, you’re gonna go all Angelus on me, Will? Somehow I thought—”

“You thought what?” Willow spat. “That I’d be better than that? I’m a vampire, Buffy.” A low feral growl erupted from somewhere deep inside her. She bared her teeth sneering with contempt, “I left the room for a minute to get something to eat while you were screwing around doing who knows what.” She snickered mirthlessly, interrupting her rant.  “Promising track record. This time your lover turned you into a monster.”

The cross rose, coming to rest at the base of Buffy’s spine. Her flesh smoldered where it touched. Tears welled in her eyes.

“You and me, lover,” Willow crooned, “we’re gonna have such good times. We have an eternity to redefine pain together.” The skin of her partner’s ass bubbled and smoked. “You ever see The Exorcist?”

Buffy bit her lower lip hard enough to draw blood when the cross ripped inside her. She began to frantically search the room. Mentally going through a checklist of all the items they’d brought with them into the tiny cabin. Her attention fixed on the bag at the foot of the bed. She couldn’t see it but she knew it was there.  

Willow was so preoccupied between the rope and the cross that she never sensed Buffy moving against her.

The air filled with the smoke. Buffy wore a mask etched by agony. The stake rose from the bag. It floated through the air behind Willow, coming to a halt between her shoulder blades. A quick thrust and it was all over.

Ashes rained onto the floor as the magic holding Buffy to the desk vanished. She toppled sideways, taking the length of rope with her as she fell. Rising was impossible. Her shoulders were too badly mangled. She floundered onto her back, folding her right arm beneath her. “Congratulations, Will,” she mumbled. “You finally got me to use magic defensively.”

Buffy’s body healed at an incredible rate. The trouble was, for it to heal, her shoulders needed to be set. She focused all of her attention on that. Eventually the bones popped and her left shoulder knit. With one arm mended, she was able to rise and manually set the other. The entire process was accompanied by a string of curses, winges and grunts.

The first thing she put on was her necklace. The tiny token had saved her life so many times she felt naked without it. As she crossed the small space to pick out something to wear, she stepped barefoot on the cross. Nothing happened. She dug through the cases and drawers, getting out black leather pants, white tee-shirt, black leather jacket and boots.

Her attention fixed on the cross as she dressed. She reached down to get it. Again, nothing happened. She dropped it onto the bed and took off the necklace. When she picked up the cross up again, smoke rolled from her hand. Her flesh boiled. She chucked the cross with so much force that it splintered against the wall. She peered down at her burned hand.

“So if I have the shape of a cross burned into my skin, why doesn’t that count as a cross?” Buffy asked. Her brow crinkled. “Technically, this should never heal.” But it did heal. It healed so quickly that by the time she was done pondering, the palm of her hand was perfectly smooth and pink.

“I don’t get it,” she said. “But whatever…I like this.” A broad grin twisted her lips as picked up the necklace. “I can use this, but—” The chain and the ribbon became so much trash. “Spike was a major dumbass.” She ripped the pendant free, placed it in her mouth and swallowed. “Dunno how many times I’ve thanked my lucky stars he wasn’t smart enough to do that.”

“’Kay, so…I’m starved,” she said as she sat down on the bed to put her boots on. “Who do I have to kill to get someone to eat around here?”

D’Hoffryn grinned wolfishly as he peered into the pool. The cargo ship he watched in its mirrored surface turned eastward toward the shore. Fiddling with the remote made him cranky. The image froze for a moment before moving at double speed as if to catch up. Finally, he managed to zoom in. His timing was fortunate.

The little blonde vampire ripped the still-beating heart from the chest of the ship’s captain.

D’Hoffryn met her golden eyes in the pool and began to chortle. “She’s so much more fun this way,” he said with delight.

Buffy licked the blood from her hand.

“Yes, sir, most entertaining,” Lloyd agreed. After a thought-filled pause, he amended, “It might’ve been more interesting if she’d stopped to grieve for the witch. Suffering always improves a performance, I believe.”

D’Hoffryn’s hand went to his beard. He stroked it pensively as he reflected, “Perhaps, but tears are so human. And this creature…she’s far from human, I’m not certain it would’ve resonated.”

“You’re probably right, sir,” Lloyd replied with an agreeable bob of his head. “May I get you something?”

D’Hoffryn replied, “Not now, Lloyd,” his attention still fixed on the pool.

Lloyd affirmed, “As you wish, sir,” and turned to leave the room.