Taking the Dead


by Saber ShadowKitten and Tinkerbell



Part One



Something's coming. Or, more appropriate, something's already here. In Sunnydale. Aside from myself, I mean. Fucking Sunnydale, I hate it here. Well, not really. I hate to be here, but I don't hate it here. How could I hate anywhere where Buffy is? But something cruel and evil is here in this town, something that Doyle saw last night. Something that's coming for Buffy. *Nothing* will come for Buffy if I can help it. So I'm here in Sunnydale, skulking around in the shadows, avoiding direct light and keeping my eye out for evilness, when all I really want to do is grab Buffy away from that soldier boy who follows her around like a child. Stupid soldier boy. I hate him, and I don't even know his name. It's been nearly 14 hours since Doyle's vision. I've been sort of guarding the Watcher's house since I got here and there's been no sign of anything harmful. Except soldier boy. So when I see Willow and Xander trooping purposefully up the walk, I figure that Giles called them to do research or something. And he usually only calls them for research if there's something that's happened. I wait, and watch. Here comes Buffy. And GI Joe, naturally, dressed in civilian clothes instead of his big strong macho fatigues. Would his big strong macho fatigues give him strength if I decided to eat him? The whole clan is assembled now, safely ensconced inside Giles' house, and guarded by me. Nothing's going to get in there without my noticing. Movement in the bushes, and I'm instantly alert. Something sneaking from shadow to shadow, much in the same way I've done since the sun rose this morning. Except this something is big and black -- oh wait, that looks like a duster thrown over someone's head. It looks like my duster, actually, and the only other person I know who has a duster like mine is... Spike. No, I plead silently, no, please don't let it be Spike. Don't let it be my errant boy, because if it is, then that means that this is Buffy's danger. How do I protect one of my loved ones from one of my loved ones? I watch with a kind of awed horror as he sneaks even closer to the front door, his ridiculously blond hair peeking out from under the faded, soft black leather of his jacket. Why aren't I doing anything? I have to stop him, I have to say something so that he knows I'm there. He can't go in there, I can't let him get to Buffy. Oh, my God. Make a decision, Angel. Do something.

*****

I don't want to do this.

I don't want to die, either.

But, I only have two choices. I can either starve to death, which, might I add, I'm already bloody well doing, or I can knock on that door that's less than ten yards from me.

The door that leads to the Watcher of my mortal enemy.

Unlife's a bitch, isn't it?

Buck up, mate, it's not like I don't have something to trade. Those commando-pricks had tried to take Willow, and I know how overprotective the Slaying Slut is of her groupies. I've gotten my sexy arse kicked on many occasions for trying to harm one of her pet humans.

Of course, how my luck's been runnin' lately, I'll prolly get staked before I can even say howdy-do.

Well, I'm not getting any eats by standing in the bleedin' shadows with my duster and a blanket pulled over my head. I'm going to walk over there, bang on the door and demand to be fed in exchange for information. I'm just the vamp with the knackers to do it, too. The other wankers would prolly let themselves waste away before turning to their enemies, but that sort of idiocy turns you to dust. I'd rather get fed, get strong again, then come back and rip my enemies' throats out for helping me as thanks.

I move from shadow to shadow rather quickly because I'm all out of aloe and I hate to peel. Is it just me, or is the door getting larger and larger the closer I get to it? Maybe I'm still asleep and dreamin' that I'm Jack or something, and a giant is going to be waiting for me behind the door.

'Fe fi fo fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman. Be he alive or be he dead, I'll grind his bones to make my bread...'

*****

Move, dammit, I think to myself. Say something. Whatever you do, do NOT let 
Spike get into that house and hurt Buffy.

The fact that she could clean the floor with his ass escapes me for the 
moment as I watch him slinking closer and closer to the front door, and 
closer and closer to my hiding place. He's so close now that I can see that 
not only does he have a duster over his head, he's got some ratty old brown 
blanket protecting him too. He must really want to get to her bad, if he's 
out in the daylight this way.

Finally the message reaches my foggy brain that I have to do something other 
than stare at my wayward childe as he slinks by.

"Spike," I hiss through clenched teeth. I'm so pissed off.

His head snaps up, and the first thing I think is, 'He looks like death.' The 
blue eyes that meet mine are rimmed with red and have seemed to sunk back 
into his skull, making his cheekbones protrude painfully. His lips are nearly 
the same color as his skin, causing me to wonder about how long it's been 
since he's eaten.

Now I'm *really* pissed off, but no longer at him. At whoever or whatever's 
done this to him.

His eyes widen when he sees me, and then he does something so unexpected that 
I'm caught totally off guard.

"Angel," he murmurs with relief, and launches himself at me.

I'm in a crouch, so I try to catch him safely but end up tumbling backwards, 
deeper into the brush. At first I think he's attacking me and I prepare to 
defend myself against him. It pains me to do it, but I bring up a closed fist 
and am about ready to knock him out when I realize that he isn't fighting me. 
He's actually trying to use me to hide behind, as if there were some foreseen 
danger out there.

I still don't see anything, but I know something's coming.

"What the hell are you doing?" I ask him, trying to turn to look at him, but 
he keeps his head down and his body behind mine.

"Get me out of here," he mumbles, and it alarms me even more than I already 
am.

"Why?" I demand. If something's after him, I need to know about it. I have to 
protect him from it. Never mind the fact that he's William the fucking Bloody 
and all that rot, this is my *childe* and I'm going to make him safe.

"Government," he snarls, trying to sound fierce but the fear in his eyes is 
apparent. "Soldiers and guns and tasers. They put something in me, Angel, the 
stupid bloody fucks put something in my head and stuck me in a cell and took 
fucking notes on me!"

We are getting out of here *now*. We are getting out of here because my boy 
sounds frightened, and Spike isn't frightened by anything. I don't know yet 
what to do about Buffy, it tears my heart to think of leaving her when she's 
in some kind of danger. 

But Spike... Spike is cowering at my feet like a pup and that scares me even 
worse than whatever's scaring him.

I stand, pulling him with me, and drag his coat and blanket over both of our 
heads. I'll bring him back to Los Angeles, I decide in a moment. I'll bring 
him back, instruct Cordelia to be nice to him, and then come back here to 
watch Buffy.

Then I'll find out whatever did this to him, and I'll kill them.

Mentally calculating how far it is to where I parked the car, I start to make 
a dash for it with Spike dogging my heels. But before either of us can take 
more than a couple of steps, the world suddenly is blocked from my view and I 
feel heavy rope drop onto my head. Instinctively grabbing for Spike, I pull 
him close to me and try to whirl around to see what's behind us.

The only thing that fills my vision is an enormous crossbow, aimed directly 
at my heart.

It takes me a second to clue in that the rope on my head is actually a net. A 
stupid goddamned net, like they use in cartoons to catch people. 

Spike hasn't made a sound since it dropped on us, but beneath my fingers, his 
arm is so tense it's shaking. Immediately I know that these are the 
"government" people he was talking about.

They move in from their assigned places, smirking at us. They aren't stupid, 
these government boys, they've each got a crossbow and a high powered rifle. 
And both Spike and I have one aimed at us from the front and from the rear.

But if they think I'm going to walk willingly with them to wherever they want 
us to go, they're dumber than they look. When one of them prods me with his 
bow, I can't help but shift into gameface and snarl at him threateningly.

Smart, Angel. Very smart, I think, as I watch him raise his rifle and turn it 
so the butt is facing me. From behind, someone shoves my head down and I can 
see them doing the same thing to Spike, and I curse myself because I'm about 
to get both of us hurt. 

And that's the last thing I think, because they knock both of us unconscious.





Part Two





Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck...

I pull wildly at the net holding me captive. I have to get it off me. I have to get out of here.

The world went from black to white five seconds ago. White, white, white, white, white, white, white. White walls. White ceiling. White floor. White fucking reflection in the fucking glass. Everywhere, it's white.

I'm not panicking. See me not panicking?

My snarl echoes against the white walls as I finally get myself free of the effin' net. I don't realize I'm scrambling on all fours to the far corner of the cell until I spin around and rest on my haunches with my back to the wall.

Bloody fucking hell! I'm a master vampire, not a wild animal, so act like it!, I tell myself. I'm William the fucking Bloody, childe to the infamous Poofball of Europe, with knackers the size of bowling balls and both of 'em made of steel. I fought Buffy the soddin' vampire fucker, the greatest Slayer anyone's ever frickin' seen or heard of, and I've stayed unalive! I lived with Drusilla for a hundred bloody years! I survived that twat, Harm, with her whiny voice, constant blabbering, and nothing but air in her blond head!

I hear a low hiss of annoyance and my eyes go from staring out the glass wall to the figure struggling against the net. I see Angel pull the heavy woven ropes from over his head and it flattens his primped hair. He scowls and my lips pull back in a feral smile. Those soldier-pricks are in big trouble now -- they've messed up Angel's hair.

Angel's head slowly turns as he scans the cell we're in, the net now bunched up on the floor beside him. When his dark eyes land on me, I can easily read the anger and disgust in them before they soften slightly in concern.

"Are you okay?" he asks, his voice unnaturally loud in the emptiness of the white, white cell.

No, I'm not okay!, I want to yell. No, I'm not fine! And no, before you say it, everything won't be all right! We're locked in a cell like a couple of lab rats and they're going to dissect us!

None of that comes out, though. Instead, when I open my mouth to scream at him, this high-pitched whine-howl bursts from my throat. I don't know who is shocked more -- him or me. I've never, never, never!, made a sound like that before. What the bloody hell is happening to me?

Angel is at my side before I can blink. Fuck, that vampire can move. He kneels in front of me, blocking my view of the glass wall, and puts his hands on both sides of my face.

"You need to calm down," he says in a low, hypnotic voice. "I'll get us out of here, but I need you to be calm."

Calm?! Fuck calm! We're going to be poked and prodded and probed like in an X-Files episode, and he wants me to be calm?!

Angel leans forward and rests his brow against mine. His dark eyes are fathomless and a bit crossed from being this close to me. I have the sudden urge to play that kid's game; the one where you close your eyes, get nose-to-nose with someone, count to three, open your eyes wide and make a sound like an owl.

Now that I think about it, that is a really fucking stupid game.

"Look at me, Spike," Angel says, drawing my attention back to him and his chocolate eyes.

Ooh, chocolate, I could use some of that.

"Spike,"Angel repeats my name with a sharpness in his voice. "Pull it together."

I see movement out of the corner of my eye, just past Angel's broad shoulder. I focus my gaze past him and see two white lab coats standing beyond the glass wall.

White, white, white, white, white. Oh bugger, we're going to die. I don't want to die. I still haven't killed Buffy. I haven't stuck it to Drusilla for breaking my heart again. I haven't shagged anyone at the top of the Empire State Building. I still have to touch up my roots.

Angel suddenly spins around, his body rising into a crouch directly in front of me, his arms splayed to the sides. I hear a threatening growl roll throughout the cell. I can't see the lab coats anymore because my big-arse sire is in the way. I can't decide if it's good that I can't see them, or if it's bad. Do I really want to know when my death is coming?

Sod it all, I sound like a great steamin' poof. What the effin' hell is wrong with me?

"Welcome back, Hostile 17," I hear an authoritative female voice say. "We've missed you."

Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck...

*****

Jesus fucking Christ, where the hell are we? We were tossed into this... room, I guess you'd call it, just thrown unceremoniously in on our asses with the net still tangled between us, and immediately I scrambled to assess the situation. So now I'm assessing it, and it doesn't look good. Aside from the fact that my head is pounding with the regularity of a clock. Damn stupid rifle. Making a sound of annoyance, I finally disentangle myself from the rope net and kick the thing away to land in a pile like a giant dead bug. I put my hand to my head and find that my hair is flattened. I try to spike it back up a bit, but I know I'm unsuccessful. I could use some gel right about now. I turn slowly, scanning the room that's actually a cell, and my eyes are starting to hurt from the brightness of it all. I know that the glass in front of us is reflective, and I'd bet my last bag of A-positive that there are humans on the other side. Where the *hell* are we? Sure that Spike knows the answer, I turn to him. He really hasn't made much noise since we got here. Expecting to find him standing next to me, I blink in surprise when I see him sitting all scrunched up against the far wall, his stark blue eyes wild and his even white teeth nibbling at his bottom lip. I had forgotten his fear in my own confusion. How could I have forgotten? "Are you okay?" I ask carefully, not wanting to upset him further but becoming more and more concerned at the wildness of his eyes. My voice is so loud in the emptiness. He opens his mouth to answer me, but instead of the usual profanity or wisecrack, he lets out this terrified whine that reminds me of a puppy that's just been kicked. That's the most frightening thing that's happened yet. I'm down on the floor with him in an instant, making sure to position myself in front of the glass so he can't see it, and I put my hands on the side of his face to make him focus on me. He feels small, and fragile. I know he's not, though. But he feels it. "You need to calm down," I murmur in the lowest voice I can. I know there are people listening, even though I still can't tell where in God's name we are. "I'll get us out of here, but I need you to be calm."

Because if he doesn't calm down, I think I might really lose my temper. Who the fuck do these people think they are? Look what they've done to *my childe*. He struggles against my hands, shaking his head 'no', and for a moment I let a tiny frisson of fear penetrate my calmness. Spike knows what's going to happen to us, and if it's possible for them to frighten him this much, would it be possible for them to do the same to me? And then I push the thought away because I have to get some answers from Spike, and I have to remain in control because he certainly isn't going to. "Look at me, Spike," I command him, bringing my face in close to his. He does. "Spike, pull it together," I snap, thinking that maybe if I'm harsh with him, it'll be more effective than just gathering him close into my embrace and rocking him like a baby. Now wouldn't he just love *that*. To be humiliated further in front of whoever brought us here. I'm about to shake him fiercely by the upper arms and try to make him be quiet for a second, because the little whines he's making in the back of his throat are tearing me up and I can't think about anything except comforting him. But instead, I drop my hands from him and whirl around, knowing that suddenly there are people behind the glass. I can see the reflection of their white coats. Making sure to block Spike's view, I can feel a growl start to curl its way up from my throat and I know that I sound like a damn jungle cat but I can't help it. Instinct says to warn away predators. There's a soft click, and then at once I can hear something other than the sound of my own growling and Spike's barely audible whimpers. "Welcome back, Hostile 17. We've missed you." Hostile 17? Who's Hostile 17? And where the *hell* are we?

*****



I've never claimed to be the smartest vampire in the world, but I normally have at least an ounce of common sense. But before anyone could say "bloody hell!", a fog of terror descends over me and my primal instinct takes control.

I shove past Angel and launch myself at the glass separating me from the white lab coats.

Bzzt!

Just like a bug-zapper, I get shocked. I fall back onto the white floor with an ungraceful thud.

I scramble to my feet and throw myself, shoulder first, at the glass again.

Bzzt!

Thud.

Immediately, I do it again.

Bzzt!

Thud.

And again.

Bzzt!

Thud.

And again.

Bzzt!

Thud.

The acrid stench of electrified flesh is strong around me. Blood is trickling from the corner of my mouth. My bones feel like they're made of rubber as I push myself to my feet and prepare to throw myself at the glass another time.

Angel steps in front of me.

I growl at him.

He growls back.

I growl louder.

He punches me.

I fall on my ass.

"Get it together!" Angel's dark eyes are spitting with anger. "Now!"

I tackle him with a animalistic cry.

Angel's head makes a loud crack when it hits the white floor. I'm on top of him instantly, swinging wildy. He snarls, grabs my wrists and head-butts me.

Fear and fury coalesce into a ball of fire that spreads throughout my body. I let out a roar and rip my wrists from his grasp. My face twists into its true ridged-features, and I attack my sire with intent to maim.

My claws sink into Angel's neck and tear his pale skin. He doesn't make a single sound as he grabs my wrists a second time, props his feet under me and throws me over his head.

I hit the floor with a loud smack. I scramble to my feet and attack again. Angel is ready, though, and my head flies to the side with his powerful punch. Blood spews from my mouth and splatters against the glass.

He grabs my upper arms and runs me backwards until I slam up against the side wall of the cell. He gets right up against me, invading my personal space, and a low, ominous rumble fills the cell.

I freeze for the barest of seconds, then long-ingrained responses kick in.

I drop my eyes and tilt my head to the side.

Angel strikes quickly and with deadly accuracy. The sharp sting of his fangs as he pierces my neck causes me to hiss. He takes a single deep pull from the stolen blood still left in me, then removes his canines and runs his tongue once over the wound.

"Easy, childe," he whispers in my ear. "Rest easy."

Angel's words penetrate the fog that enshrouds me. Who I am, what I am and where I am all come flooding back into my brain. Humiliation burns through me.

"Get off," I tell Angel, although I don't struggle against him.

Angel pulls back far enough to look me in the eyes. "Fix your face," he says quietly after a minute.

I pull on my control and my human mask descends back over my features. "Happy?" I sneer.

"Depends," Angel says, holding my gaze.

When I realize he isn't going to release me, I roll my eyes and say, "I'm easy, you bloody wanker."

Angel holds me for a moment longer, then nods in apparent satisfaction and takes a step back. I shrug the tension from my shoulders, face the glass, flick off the two lab coats standing on the other side, then stalk to the back of the cell.

Bugger, I need a fag.



*****


I just stand there and growl at them for the good part of a minute, waiting. For what, I don't know. But something's about to happen. The something that actually happens is in the form of Spike, who has gotten up from the ground and comes to stand a little behind me. I try to move again so he can't see the people through the glass, but all of a sudden he pushes right past me and takes a flying leap toward the window. I make a grab for him, but too late. There's a gut-wrenching zapping noise and I can practically see the electricity arcing through the air as he flies backwards to land in a pathetic heap against the wall. Turning to him, I'm about to ask if he's all right, but he's on his feet quickly, and damn it all if he isn't about to launch himself again. My panic is growing, and I can't tamp it down. Spike's losing it. Again, I make a grab but I'm too slow, because he repeats the fruitless act of trying to break the unbreakable glass. And again, he's thrown against the far wall with a thud that makes me wince. Now he'll stop, I think. He won't do it again. Except he does. I start yelling his name. He either can't hear me or is ignoring me -- which is so like him -- and continues to hurl himself against the glass like a trapped animal. Which he is, I suppose. We both are. But I can't let him keep doing this because now he's bleeding pathetically from the mouth and I'm hoarse from yelling at him, and I can practically hear the smirking from the self-righteous assholes behind the window. With the growl still rumbling in my chest, I finally block his movement by simply stepping in front of him. He makes a nice show of growling at me. 'Uh huh,' I think. 'Pretend you don't want me to stop you from pounding your brain into mush against that wall.' All I have to do is growl right back at him, a little louder, to provoke his already high anger, and when he begins to flare his nostrils and snarl, I just punch him. He was out of line. Never growl at me. He glares hatefully at me from his spot on the floor, and then I get *really* pissed off. For Christ's sake, is he not understanding that we have to count on each other? "Get it together!" I shout at him. "Now!" God, I don't have time for his childish displays of temper. I look away for an instant to see if I cut my knuckles when I hit him, and then my head is snapping against the white tile floor because the little shit actually has the balls to tackle me. Well, at least he isn't trembling anymore. But this is really getting tiresome. He's swinging wildly, not really focusing on his target, so it's easy for me to just wrap one hand around his wrists and slam my forehead against his. I don't think it's possible for Spike to become even more angry, but now he is. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I'm understanding that he's merely venting his fear and frustration on me in the form of physical anger. I'm understanding this, but I don't like it. Because, *fuck*, I think I split my head open when he slammed me to the goddamned ground. And then I've had enough, because he's *still* out of control, and when I see his eyes grow yellow and his claws descend, it's the breaking point for me. He has just enough time to scrape the skin of my neck with his sharp nails before I make a grab for his wrists and throw the damned obnoxious jackass over my head to land flat on his back. And still, he comes for me. GodDAMNit, Spike! He gets a strong cross punch for his trouble, spattering the glass as well as the pristine white floor with his blood, and while he's still shaking his blond head to clear it, I grab him by the upper arms and slam him straight into the wall. I'm so close to him I can see the tiny black flecks in his eyes that mar the yellow-gold. And I hate to do this, I hate to lord my domination over him, but I have no choice. My growling hasn't stopped the entire time, and now it's the only thing either of us can hear. He stands utterly still for a half second, then finally acquiesces. His eyes drop to the floor and he gives the barest tilt to his head, exposing his vulnerable neck. It's smooth and fast and over before the idiots outside even know what I've done to my childe. With a long-practiced movement, I prick Spike's neck quickly and accurately and take a smooth swallow of the blood that wells up. Then my fangs are out of his neck and I make a quick pass with my tongue over the already closing wound. My hands are still gripping his upper arms as I whisper to him. "Rest easy." I can see him visibly return from wherever his fear has taken him. He blinks once at the floor and makes a quick glance to his left, as if he's absorbing the information that his muddled brain is now giving him. "Get off," he says, half-heartedly. Ah, now *that's* my brave Spike. "Fix your face," I tell him, not wanting the observers outside to garner more information than they already have. He does, sneering at me. He wants me to let go, but I don't think he's ready. I eye him carefully. "Happy?" he tosses out. "Depends." "I'm easy, you bloody wanker." He must be, if he's insulting me. I relax a little. Letting go of him, I watch as he gives the finger to the observers outside. Leaving him to his own devices on the other side of the room, I scan the cell slowly while keeping my head down. No use letting government boys know that we're going to get the fuck out of here.

Part Three





Angel casually watches the white lab coats on the other side of the glass until they decide that we've given them enough of a show and move on. Then, he turns and walks to me, a concerned look in his soulful brown eyes.

Which means I'm more fucked up than normal.

There's a written code between us. I hate him; he hates me; and the only eye-contact we have is if we're glaring at one another.

Now, he's looking at me all worried-like and I... I... lean back against the wall and slide to the floor, because I'm suddenly knackered. Maybe throwing myself at the electrified glass wall wasn't such a bloody good idea.

Angel crouches in front of me, his neanderthal brow wrinkled in consternation, and, for a full minute, he stares at me with those insufferable, piercing brown eyes of his before the tosser speaks. "Where are we?"

"Some underground lab," I answer dully. I drop my eyes, not wanting to be peeled apart like a soddin' onion by his sharp gaze, and I pick at a small tear in the knee of my trousers.

"Do you know who these people are?"

Sire wants to play Twenty Questions, what fun. "Soldiers. Lab coats. Demons in cages like rats," I reply snippily.

"Is this the 'government' you mentioned before?" Angel asks. There's a slight strain to his voice, telling me that I'm already getting on his nerves.

Good.

"Yeah," I say. The small tear in my knee is now larger. Damn. Gonna have to get me a new pair of denims. I hate shopping.

"Who's Hostile 17?"

My head snaps up at the question. For a second, I'm pleased at the annoyed expression on his face. Then, reality in the form of a beep smacks me upside the head, and a hard knot forms in my stomach.

I don't bother to look up. Angel does, and I see his annoyance turn to puzzlement as two blood bags drop from the hole that just opened in the ceiling. They land on the floor in the center of the cell with two little slaps.

I can smell the blood, even through the plastic of the bags. Human. O-Positive. Very fresh.

Drugged.

I close my eyes and start to bang the back of my head against the wall. I begin to hum a little ditty to the rhythm of my skull connecting with the hard wall. Soon, the white wall is going to be stained red with my blood. At least then I'll get something to eat. Licking a wall can't be that disgusting. Cats do it. Dogs do it. Why not me, too?

Suddenly, there's a softness between my head and the wall, and I hear a soft curse as I bash my head against Angel's hand. Serves the prick right. He should know better than to get between a man's head and his wall.

A giggle bubbles from my throat and spills out into the open. Where's my straitjacket? I'm getting looney here. Lack of feeding does that to a vamp, even to one as great as me.

Fuck, I'm so hungry.

Angel's cradling the back of my head, preventing me from starting up my Matthew McConaughey imitation again. Of course, I'm wearing too many clothes to be a proper mimic, but I'll be naked soon enough. Hard to probe a bloke otherwise.

Another giggle, this one is accompanied by a tear escaping from behind my closed eyelids. Damn it, I didn't want to cry in front of the poof. I didn't want to cry, period. I'm the Big Bad. Grr and all that rot.

"Get me out of here, sire," I whisper, my voice cracking. My lower lip trembles uncontrollably as I try to hold back the tears that threaten to come falling down.

"I will." Angel's voice is equally as soft, but I can hear the hard promise in his words.

He will get me out of this underground shithole. He will protect me. He will act like my sire, and not the vampire with a soul who hates me.

I wipe my teary eyes before opening them. Peaches is watching me carefully. There's a coldness to his expression that sends a shiver down my spine. I'm looking at the vampire who's been to hell and back, and didn't break.

What the bloody hell had I been thinking when I tried to torture him?

Okay, technically I didn't torture him, I paid someone else to do it. I only helped a little. Gave myself a bloody hard on, too, while doing it. I'd wanted to tell Marcus to take a hike, strip Angel's trousers off, wrap myself around my sire's hulking body, and hump him like a bitch. No way I'd have taken the chance of unchaining him to fuck him properly. Give the soddin' nonce an inch, and he'd pull a Houdini before I could get my trousers down.

"Are you hungry?" Angel asks me.

I snort. "You could say that."

He starts to move to retrieve the blood bags, but I stop him. "It's drugged," I say.

Angel frowns. "Are you sure?"

"No, I'm lying to you. I happen to like starving myself to dust."

His frown deepens. The poof is the only one I've ever met who could make his frown deepen like that. Must be a side-effect of having a soul.

"When's the last time you fed?" he says.

I shrug. "'Bout two weeks, maybe more. Depends on how long it was before I woke up, the first time I was down here."

"The first time?"

"Yeah, didn't you hear? I'm Hostile 17."

Which gets me to thinking: am I only the seventeenth demon the blighters have caught? Or do they recycle numbers? From the looks of things, this place is pretty well established. They prolly just can't count without using their fingers and toes.

Angel nods slowly, and I can tell he's agreeing with something he's thinking rather than with whatever I said. He shifts and looks around the cell. He stares intently at the top lefthand corner of the glass wall, and I look to see whatever it is he sees.

There's a camera just outside the glass, its black lens pointing into the white prison we're sitting in.

Fuck.

"I want you to feed," Angel says, returning his intense brown eyes to me.

"What? But it's drugged." Didn't I just tell him that it was drugged? I could've sworn I did.

"Drugged or not, it's blood," he says. "And you need to eat."

"But I don't need them to do something else to me!" I exclaim. "I already can't bite anyone!"

"Shh," Angel puts his hand on my knee, "keep easy."

"Sod off," I growl at him, but I make myself relax. I've got a effin' headache as it is, from throwing myself against the electrified glass, I don't need to compound on it.

"Spike, look at me," Angel instructs.

I meet his eyes and sigh. I know with that one look that I'm going to do what he wants, the wanker.

Angel leans closer to me, his back to the glass wall and the camera, and whispers in an almost inaudible voice, "I would somehow feed you with my blood, but at least one of us needs to be at full strength."

I look at him in surprise. Sire's blood was not something that was offered at a drop of the hat. I can count on one hand the number of times I've drunk the unbelievable elixir that courses under my sire's skin. I know that the source of that blood is the same -- although now the poof gets his sustenance from bags rather than from people -- but something happens within an older vampire's body that makes the blood taste better, stronger, magical even.

It's prolly all just a head-game. Psycho-whatcha-ma-fucking-call-its. Either way, sire's blood is the shit, and I'd give my left nut to drain Angel dry.

Of course, the hairball might have a problem with that.

"I won't let them get you, childe," Angel says softly, his dark eyes hammering his promise into my head.

Bloody hell, you big... soul-having... poncey... How the fuck is a bloke suppose to hate you when you act all wonderful-like?, I think.

I reach out and take his hand in the mystical super-secret vampire sire-childe grip. Another little giggle tumbles from between my lips before the made-up name for my nancyish action finishes running through my brain. Oh yeah, the funny farm is gonna be gettin' a blond vampire to add to their menagerie.

Angel doesn't say anything. He just squeezes my hand and waits for me to give him a sign that I'm not about to throw myself at the glass wall again.

I swallow back the nauseousness I'm feeling, yank my hand from his, and crawl across the floor to the blood bags -- two innocent-looking blood bags that are guaranteed to send me off to beddy-by-land, where I won't know what's going on and I won't know what else they're sticking in me.

I slip into gameface, rip off the corner of one of the bags, and guzzle its contents down. I'd say that the blood was ambrosia to my starving body, but the thought of how vulnerable I'm going to be as soon as the drugs kick in puts a damper on its effects. And I can taste whatever drugs they used, a sort of sweet-syrupy taste that sticks in the back of my throat.

The second bag is emptied as quickly as the first, and I throw it against the glass. The blood spurts out and smears against the clear wall. It joins the blood from my face caused by Angel's earlier punch.

Prick.

I don't bother to get up. Instead, I crawl to the left front corner of the cell, position myself so my back is to the white wall, pull my knees up to my chest and resume picking at the growing hole in my trousers. I moved to this spot specifically, because the camera view is the weakest right below it. I'm careful, though, to keep a safe distance between myself and the glass wall. Don't want to get zapped in the middle of nappy-time.

Angel stands, walks over to me, and sits down between me and the glass wall. I should have expected that. Protective poof.

We sit in silence... well, as silent as an underground lab with cages full of irate demons can be. I pick on my torn knee and try to name as many demon cries that I can recognize, all the while awaiting unconsciousness to overtake me.

I hate waiting.



*****

He looks awful. More awful than he did when I caught him skulking around outside of Giles' place. Of course, hurling himself blindly at the electrified glass did much for contributing to his awfulness. Stupid, stupid childe. *How* could this childe be the blood of my blood? I will never stop wondering at the answer to that question. He's watching me warily, and I must have some kind of expression on my face that he doesn't trust because his brow furrows and he looks away. Slowly, carefully, he slides down the wall to the floor and sits gingerly. I would break every damn bone in his body if I didn't know he was already in serious hurt. Instead, I crouch down in front of him to try to get some answers. Amazingly, he meets my gaze. It's only when I speak that he drops his eyes. "Where are we?" I ask. "Some underground lab," he mumbles, while fiddling with a hole in his jeans. I want to take his hand away from the little rip and squeeze it in reassurance. He would hate that. I try again, this time hoping to get a little more detail. "Do you know who these people are?" Duh, Angel. Obviously he knows who these people are. And now he's getting a little feisty again because he snaps out single words. "Soldiers. Lab coats. Demons in cages like rats." His tone is sharp, but I let it slide. He's under stress. In a normal situation, though... In a normal situation we'd be fighting like dogs. Because I hate him. All right, one more try. "Is this the 'government' you mentioned before?" I hope he can tell I'm a little annoyed. A lot annoyed. "Yeah," he mutters. Man of few words, Spike is. When it suits him. "Who's Hostile 17?" Well, that question seems to pique his interest because he looks up at me with an 'are you kidding?' expression. But before he answers, we're interrupted by a buzzer sounding from somewhere in the ceiling, and two fat blood bags drop through a hole that's magically opened. Human blood, I realize. I'm hungry, too. And if *I'm* hungry, the boy next to me must be starving. I don't stop to wonder about the fact that they're feeding us. Stupid me. All I can smell is the fresh blood in that bag, and I want it. And I want Spike to eat, too. Expecting him to make a mad rush for the food, I'm momentarily confused when he merely glances at it and then closes his eyes and begins to hum. His head begins to bounce off the wall behind him, softly at first and then harder and harder until I'm afraid he's going to make the wound on his head even worse. Whatever is wrong with him is magnified by being in here. I've got to get him out. Concerned about his head, I put my hand between his hair and the wall in an attempt to make him stop inflicting pain upon himself. He just smashes my hand instead, and I curse. He giggles when he hears it. Great. Spike giggling is never a good thing. And now his giggles are accompanied by something even more frightening... A tear. Sliding from behind his eye. Uh oh. I'm staring at that lone tear, watching it trail its way over the fine curve of his cheek, when I hear him whisper to me. "Get me out of here, sire." His chin is trembling with the effort to keep back the flood of tears I hear in his voice. There's only one thing I can say. "I will." He looks at me then, valiantly swiping at his hated tears, and I could weep at the trust I see there. How the fuck am I supposed to get us out of here? Ignoring that problem for the moment, I ask him if he's hungry. "You could say that," he replies, still not looking at the blood. I make a move to get it, and he speaks again. "It's drugged." I should have known. "Are you sure?" What the hell kind of question is that, 'are you sure?' Of course he's sure, he's been here before. No wonder he looks so thin. He snaps back some sarcastic retort that I deserve. I ignore it. "When's the last time you fed?" He tries to sound indifferent, but fails. "Two weeks, maybe more. Depends how long it was before I woke up, the first time I was down here." Ah, now things are looking a little more clear. "The first time?" "Yeah, didn't you hear? I'm Hostile 17." He goes back to staring morosely at his jeans, and an idea begins to form in my mind. It's not much of one, but it's the only idea I've had since I came here and I've got to do something. Now where are they keeping that camera... ...ah, there it is. Up in the corner, outside the glass, Big Brother is watching. Good, let the fucks watch. "I want you to feed," I say abruptly to Spike. He looks up with a 'you're an idiot' expression. "What? But it's drugged." "Drugged or not, it's blood," I remind him. "And you need to eat." He begins to protest vehemently, a small wrinkle appearing between his eyes. "But I don't need them to do something else to me! I already can't bite anyone!" He can't... what? I didn't know that. No wonder he's terrified. "Shh," I quiet him, "keep easy." "Sod off," he mutters, staring at the ceiling. "Spike, look at me." Heaving a sigh, he does. I see compliance in his eyes even before I've demanded it, and it makes me happy. "I would somehow feed you with my blood, but at least one of us needs to be at full strength." It's not an offer I ever make lightly, but he should know I was considering it. When the surprise on his face shows itself, I almost laugh. Spike knows I'd never feed him my blood unless it was an emergency. Or a very special circumstance, like the time in Florence when... Blinking hard, I shake myself free of the memory and bring myself back to the situation. Spike is practically drooling at the thought of my blood. Too bad he won't get any. He's going to drink that drugged shit, and I'm going to make him do it. But first, a bit of reassurance. "I won't let them get you, childe," I murmur, leaning in close. I mean it. I won't let them. When he starts to giggle again, I tense, thinking he might do something foolish like throw himself at the glass. Instead, he reaches out for my hand and squeezes it. Then he crawls across the floor to the drugged blood, his fangs descending as he does. Quick as a wink, he's ripped off the corner of the bag and has his teeth in it, draining the contents. Then he does the same to the second. When it's dry, he throws it in a final act of defiance against the glass. It lands with a plop on the floor like a dead thing. Crawling to a spot in the cell that isn't easily seen by the camera, he seems to fold in on himself and stares at his knees. Sighing, I join him. We wait. I watch with a heavy heart as his eyes begin to droop. He fights it at first, much like a child who insists they aren't sleepy, but eventually the drugged blood proves too much for even him. Though glazed, Spike's blue eyes catch mine, and my heart twists at the panic I see in them. His final glance is pleading and helpless, two emotions Spike *never* exhibits. I try to calm him. "I'm right here," I say fiercely, but too late. He's out cold. Easing him from where he's slumped against the hard wall, I shrug off my jacket and pillow it under his head. Then I stand watch over my sleeping childe, and wait. They will come, and when they do, I'll protect my own. I don't wait long. The same female voice that spoke earlier comes again over the hidden intercom. "Hello, Hostile 36." Now I'm a Hostile, too, it seems. Well, it fits. I feel pretty damn fucking hostile. I don't bother replying, instead moving instinctively closer to Spike. When the voice comes again, I think I detect amusement. "You didn't eat your dinner." "That's not dinner," I spit before I think better of it. "That's garbage." "You let your... friend drink it." The rage that had momentarily quieted flares anew. "He hasn't eaten in weeks!" I shout at the faceless voice. "He's starving!" "Yes, well, you'll forgive us for not being sympathetic to the eating habits of demons." And then all at once a glass panel slides noiselessly to the side, and more of those damn annoying soldier boys with their damn annoying high-powered rifles are filing into the room. They're out of their minds if they think I'm leaving this cell with them. If they think for one second that I'm letting them take me out of here... Wait, what the hell...? I'm surrounded by a sea of black vests and the muzzles of shiny rifles. But they aren't dragging me anywhere, they just seem to be watching me over the barrels of their dicks. I mean rifles. A small movement in the corner catches my attention. I would have missed it altogether, which is obviously what they were hoping for, but the flash of blond hair is what catches my eye. Realization dawns. *I'm* not the one they're taking out of here. They're taking Spike. The tenuous hold I've had over my own control finally snaps. With a roar of rage that even sounds loud to me, I almost manage to break through the circle of soldiers that surrounds me. Almost. They were ready for me, though, and one of them whaps the side of his gun against my temple. I bite back a yelp of pain -- no good letting commando bastards know they hurt me -- and immediately spin to the other side of the tight circle to try and break through again. I can see over their flak-vested shoulders that two of them have Spike. He hangs limply between them, one soldier holding his ankles and the other with a firm grip under his arms. They're almost out of the room. I promised I would watch him. I promised I would. I promised. I -- -- lunge at the nearest neck in my paniic to get to Spike. Oh, bad mistake, Angel. Baaaaaaad mistake. I'm becoming awfully familiar with the butt of these rifles, as one of them slams my jaw shut and I clamp down with sharp fangs on my own tongue. Then another one clips me upside the head again, and the white cell starts to spin. I sink slowly to the floor, watching helplessly as the commandos look down from above. When I wake up, I'm alone. Spike is gone.


Continued