Buffy opened the door, a perfectly heated mug of blood in her hands. Xander followed, looking pretty nervous. He hadn't liked this idea at all, but it was the best they had. So, he got to be the distraction.
He stepped around Buffy, swallowing, and moved towards the chained vampire. Spike watched him, his eyes wild, his lips curling back slightly. He hadn't even noticed Buffy yet, apparently.
"Hey, Spike..." Xander started, taking another step. The vampire let loose a growl, low, almost too soft to hear. Gripping tightly at the chains that held him, he flattened himself against the wall.
"I come in peace," Xander held out both his hands, in the universal sign for being unarmed, and continued forward, slowly. Buffy crept up behind him, holding tight to the mug.
"Just want to talk..." Xander continued, now almost close enough to Spike to reach out and touch him. He stopped, slowly crouching to appear less of a threat to him. "We're just trying to help..."
Spike was frozen, it seemed, breathing harshly, muscles twitching and trembling. A small part of Xander wanted to gloat; Spike was afraid of him. Something that had never happened before, to his knowledge. But the greater part of him was sickened by it. He couldn't understand how anyone could do this to a creature, even a vampire like Spike. Staking, beheading, burning, sure, that was fine. But this? It was like pulling the wings off a butterfly.
Buffy was now close enough as well. She slowly set the mug down, and nodded at Xander. He flicked his eyes to her for a second to let her know he was ready, and reached slowly for the mug.
Buffy pounced, one arm locking around Spike's neck, jerking his chin up, the other locked tightly around his chest, stilling his arms. The vampire howled and thrashed, but was too weak to break the Slayer's hold. He must have realized this, for his struggling stopped, as did his breathing, his eyes locked on Xander. The terror in them made the boy freeze, for an instant, before grabbing the mug and bringing it to the vampire's lips, forcing the scent of it to his nose.
Spike vamped instantly, instinct taking over with the blood so close. Xander tilted the mug, draining it slowly into his open mouth, and noted it was comparable to feeding a baby bird.
The mug was emptied quickly, and Xander moved back, turned on his heel, and left the room. He knew Buffy would want a moment alone with Spike now that she had his attention.
God, this is hard, Buffy thought, her arms still locked around Spike, who was watching Xander leave. The demon had already receded, and he was starting to struggle again.
"Shhh, Spike..." she said softly, her mouth pressed to his ear. "We're not going to hurt you. We're trying to help. We know you can get through this....Please...." Those damned tears were starting to try and show again.
He made a soft sound in response, relaxing a little.
"We're all worried about you. We know...what happened. Warren can't hurt you anymore."
His jaw clenched at the mention of the name, but he gave no other indication that he understood. His eyes were drooping a little, as if he were fighting to stay awake.
"I'm here for you," she whispered. "You know that, right?"
He blinked slowly, and sighed, actually leaning into her hold. She was comforting him.
The tears were flowing free now. She was overjoyed she was getting through to him, but terrified that he would never be the same again. Her grip relaxed, and she removed her choke hold on him. His head dropped to her shoulder. Her hold on his arms turned into a gentle hug, and she supported him.
She sniffled, threading her fingers gently through his hair. He winced, and slammed his eyes shut, jaw clenching again.
"You don't have to be ashamed. What...happened, it would have killed anyone else. You...are so strong...."
His eyes opened again for a moment, and she could swear there were tears in them. But they slid closed again. He was falling asleep.
She kissed the side of his head, and laid him down as gently as she could. He whimpered at the loss of her touch.
"I'll be back soon, William."
He made no response as she stood and scrubbed her cheeks. She turned and left the room.
An hour after sunset, Angel arrived.
He frowned at the tinkling of the bell overhead as he entered the shop, Lorn in tow. No one said a word. He looked at each in turn, taking in their expressions. Willow looked terrible, pale and tired. Buffy looked worse, as if she had been crying for hours. The ex-demon, Anya, was moving around the shop, dusting things that obviously didn't need to be dusted.
Xander's face held no expression; he simply watched his fiancee, not even glancing up when Angel and Lorne entered. Dawn was asleep, curled up on the floor with her school bag as a pillow, a duster that was probably Spike's serving as a blanket. Tara -- Willow's girlfriend, he remembered -- was doing her best to comfort everyone, talking in low tones with Buffy and Willow.
Angel simply couldn't understand how this had affected them all so much. It was Spike. It couldn't be that bad.
"Eek, the aura in here just screams 'brood'." Lorne spoke, dusting off his jacket.
"Who are you?" Buffy asked, giving a soft smile to Angel, before taking in the green-skinned demon.
"This is Lorne; he's one of the good guys. He might be able to help."
"Oh," was all Buffy said, before rising and moving toward him. She had that 'let's get down to business look' on her face that he knew so well. Resisting the urge to call Cordy and check on Connor, he met her halfway.
"Where is he?"
"He's in the back. He was sleeping, finally. We had to force feed him, pretty much. He hasn't eaten since he was captured, apparently."
Willow looked over.
"When he came to...get me, he said he had killed someone. That they made him."
Buffy closed her eyes, and lowered her head.
"Since then, then. Do you, uh, wanna see him?" she asked Angel.
He thought about it for awhile, glancing to the phone again. Lorne gave him a look.
Buffy nodded, hugging herself, and then pointed to the back room.
"He's in there." she said, before sitting back down.
Angel frowned, and shrugged, gesturing for Lorne to stay there while he entered the back room.
The first thing he noticed was that Spike was chained up. He cursed silently, shaking his head. Restraints would only further enforce the 'training' he had been put through.
"Spike, my boy..." he said rather loudly. His grand-childe jerked awake in an instant, looking around, dazed.
"What have you gotten yourself into this time, huh?" Angel steepled his fingers and crouched near Spike, tilting his head. He was surprised at the fear in Spike's eyes. Never once had the younger vampire been frightened of him, even after all his evil self had put him through.
"So, is this just some ploy? Make them think you're weak so you can kill them all?" he asked, his voice smooth and even. "'Cause I gotta say, you're doing a damn fine job."
Spike neither spoke nor moved. He simply stared at him, wide-eyed.
Angel chuckled and rose, giving a Spike a grin, before returning to where the others were gathered. Only then did his attitude shift.
He sighed, looking around the room.
"I need to know everything that happened to him -- it's the only way I can figure out how to pull him back. He's in bad shape. And Buffy?" he said, turning to her.
"Next time someone is brutally tortured and stripped of any control, let's try and not further that by locking them in chains?"
Continued in Chapter 12