Author’s Notes: Warnings: It’s a bit angsty, I suppose, but I don’t like sad endings so there isn’t one, well not really. Angel’s Buffy’s boyfriend during this time period, but there’s no Bangel in the story, honest. There’s character death, but not Spike or Buffy and I promise, you probably won’t care. Just warning in case someone’s really sensitive.
“You sing the sweetest little song,” Drusilla crooned. “Won’t you sing for me, hmm? Don’t you love me anymore?”
“Darling!” Spike called from the doorway. “I heard a funny thing just now. Lucius tells me that you went out on a hunt the other night.”
“My tummy was growly. And you were out.” Returning her focus to the bird cage, Drusilla tried again to coax a response out of the dead bird. “Come on.” She whistled a few notes to encourage it. “I’ll pout if you don’t sing.”
“You, um, meet anyone?” Spike prodded. “Anyone interesting? Like Angel?”
“Angel.” She said vaguely, not looking at him.
“Yeah.” Spike clenched his jaw nearly imperceptibly and bestowed a kiss on her temple. “So… What might you guys have talked about, then? Old times? Childhood pranks? It’s a little off, you two so friendly, him being the enemy and all that.”
Drusilla ignored him and prompted the bird again, promising, “I’ll give you a seed if you sing.”
“The bird’s dead, Dru. You left it in a cage, and you didn’t feed it, and now it’s all dead, just like the last one,” Spike snapped impatiently. But as she shrank away from him and whimpered, his frustration evaporated and he said gently, “Oh, I’m sorry baby. I’m a bad, rude man. I just don’t like you goin’ out, that’s all.” He took her hand gently. “You are weak.” He smiled as he brought her fingers to his lips, “Would you like a new bird? One that’s not dead?”
The Slayer lay at the bottom of the steps, unconscious. Spike gestured to some minions to chain her hands and feet then turned to Ford.
“I delivered. I handed her to you,” Ford said expectantly.
Spike said thoughtfully, “Yes, I suppose you did.”
“So. What about my reward?”
“Princess.” Spike motioned to Drusilla. “Care to give the boy his reward?”
Drusilla embraced Ford from behind, morphed and bit down hard on his neck. At the pain of the bite, he struggled briefly, but she held him firmly.
“Then we’re out of here. Grab a little takeout and leave!” he shouted and then lowered his voice again. “Got to get the Slayer away before the bloody cavalry shows up as it always seems to around here.” Spike cast an irritated glance at the bound slayer.
Drusilla finished and Spike told a minion to pick up the boy’s body. Another hoisted the Slayer’s. Ford’s head lolled brokenly, bloody lips slackened in death as the minion shouldered him.
“He tasted funny,” Drusilla complained as they left the club.
“I’m sure he did,” Spike said with a disgusted look at the limp corpse. “But I did make a promise.” He caressed her cheek gently.
She wrinkled her nose. “We’re not going to keep him are we, my Spike? I didn’t like him. Miss Edith didn’t like him either.”
“I’ll keep my promise.” Spike smiled. “He’ll rise and then you can play with him a bit before you stake him, yeah? Would you like that, pet?”
Drusilla bit her lip petulantly. “I want to play with the Slayer.”
He stroked her hair. “So you shall, princess. So you shall. I did promise you a new bird, didn’t I? This one’s alive yet. But we need her to stay alive for a little. So, the boy first.”
Looking doubtful, Drusilla said, “I don’t think this bird will like my seeds. She’ll make a poor pet, my knight. She’ll peck, peck, peck at us. You should kill her now. Kill her now, for me, Spike. Nasty Slayer, she’s not a sweet little, lovely bird. Kill her now, Spike,” she whined at him and hung on his arm, pleading. “She’ll bring us bad luck. Bird of ill omen…harbinger of doom…she doesn’t look dark, but she’s a raven underneath for us, love…”
“Stop it, Dru.” He shook her off gently. “She won’t be hurting anyone. I’ve got a plan.”
Spike eyed the mercenary warlock warily. He hated magic, it usually came with nasty consequences, but there were times when it was unavoidably useful.
“So, we’re clear and you can do it?” he repeated to the man.
The diminutive, robed man bore an unfortunate resemblance to a weasel, his features sharp and his body whippet thin. “I can do it,” he snapped. “Just the two of you. That’s all I can manage.”
“Two of us’ll be fine,” Spike replied. “Get to it then.”
“I need the other,” the warlock said impatiently.
“Dru, baby, could you come out here?” Spike called and Drusilla appeared, floating ethereally across the factory floor in her long gown.
“Spike?” she asked, eyes large, taking in the Slayer at the center of the circle in the middle of the floor.
He drew her in close to him and inside the circle with the Slayer. “We need to do a little spell, keep the nasty Slayer from doing anything rash when she wakes up.”
Dru stood trustingly in his arms, clinging to him weakly. “We could just kill her.”
He raised her chin with a finger. “Now, pet, I’ve explained that. She’s bait for Angelus. We need him to get you well and we both know he’s not likely to be a willing participant otherwise. This is just insurance. Works out right, we’ll get you well and still dine on Slayer blood.”
Spike nodded at the warlock. “Let’s get this thing started.”
The warlock brought out a bowl and dagger. He brought the knife closer to Drusilla and Spike growled. “A little blood is needed. You may do it if you like.” He handed the dagger to Spike.
Spike drew the dagger lovingly across his beloved’s wrist, allowing the blood to flow into the bowl. Then he licked the wound closed and applied the blade to himself.
“The girl, too.”
Spike grabbed one of Buffy’s limp wrists and made a similar cut, mingling her blood with theirs.
The warlock cast more unidentifiable ingredients into the bowl of blood, warmed it over a candle and said a few phrases in a language Spike didn’t recognize. He painted a symbol on each of their foreheads and stepped back out of the circle before speaking a final incantation.
“It is done.”
Spike looked skeptical. “That’s it? No flash of light, no explosions, nothing glowing…that’s all there is to it?”
“Yes. It’s a relatively simple spell, but taxing to me.” The warlock did indeed look drained and weakened.
“Well, if it’s all the same to you, I think we’ll be putting you up another evening until the little girl wakes up and we can see if the mojo worked, yeah?” Spike loosed Drusilla and walked over to the man.
“I’ve done my job!” the man said sharply. “I want the money I was promised and I’m leaving.”
“I think you’re staying a bit, mate,” Spike countered, shaking his finger at him warningly. “Ah, ah, ah…none o’ that-” He grabbed the man’s wrist as he reached for his bag of supplies. “You’re too weak to leave anyway, right? You’ll be needing a lie down. Dru will show you to a nice room.” He nudged the man in Dru’s direction. “Don’t eat him, luv,” he added absently, reliable warlocks were hard to find. If the man had done as promised, he’d be good to call upon again for future deals. Spike knew he wouldn’t be able to contain him long, but it would be long enough to confirm the spell’s effectiveness at least, while the magic user was so weak.
After they left, Spike leaned over the motionless body of the Slayer. He’d have thought she slept; she was so still and peaceful, her heartbeat thumping a slow, steady rhythm in his ears. He drew a finger down her smooth cheek. ‘So young and soft and yet so deadly,’ he thought and he wondered at the strange tremor of excitement that raced through him when he touched her. ‘Slayers. Always did have a thing for them.’
He regretted that he wouldn’t be able to kill this one in a fair fight. Not for the fairness of it, but for missing the thrill of besting her the proper way. He’d have another notch on his belt, but it wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying. His pride still smarted from his tactical retreat on Halloween. He’d had her beneath him, trembling and helpless, and had for some unknown reason hesitated…hesitated long enough that whatever spell she was under had broken and the chance to bite her had slipped through his fingers. He still didn’t know why he hadn’t bitten her immediately. Wasn’t that he hadn’t had the time; he’d made quick work of many over the last century. He’d convinced himself that he was merely savoring the moment before he dined, ignoring the uneasy feeling that that wasn’t entirely the truth.
Something about the strong slayer, lying there, cringing and helpless had bothered him.
The only good thing about that night was that he’d noticed his grandsire’s panicked reaction to Buffy’s deadly situation. Noticed and filed it away for future use. ‘The future is now,’ he thought smugly.
He shrugged. ‘Oh well, good thing about Slayers. There’s always the next one.’ Smiling, he picked up the tiny body. ‘Come luv, let me show you to your new home.’
Buffy woke groggy. She put a hand to her head. ‘Ow.’ She winced as she encountered the tender spot and bloody matted hair and fought to remember where she was. Wherever it was, it was pretty dark. Her neck was tingling. ‘Vamps nearby. Lots of them.’
‘Oh GOD, am I a vamp?” She felt her face anxiously and then, more sensibly, put her fingers to her pulse. ‘No. Ok. No…’ She lay back again, relieved. Then things filtered back to her.
“Ford…” she said softly, recalling more. “Oh… those people.” She closed her eyes again, feeling horrible that she’d failed them. Even stupid people didn’t deserve to be vamp food. She sighed and opened her eyes again. Sitting up…was a bad idea, she discovered. ‘Woozy. Ugh.’ She felt the nausea rise up from the pit of her stomach. ‘Lightheaded and weak,’ she thought. ‘Wonder how long I’ve been out. Wonder WHERE I’ve been out.’ She looked around, moving her head slowly and cautiously. It seemed to be ok if she avoided any sudden movements.
‘Ok, cages…never of the good.’ She was in a round cage about twelve feet in diameter. She looked up and what she saw gave her the wiggins. ‘Ok, I’m in a huge birdcage. Or the cage is normal and I’m small.’ She’d learned to expect anything on the Hellmouth. The top of the cage indeed did curve to a point, and a bar had been suspended in the middle. ‘Great. Kidnapped by crazy people. This just gets better every second.’ She frowned and wrestled herself up to her feet. ‘Ok, standing is of the good.’ She encouraged herself. ‘Just have to take a look around and hang in there until someone comes to help. I’m sure they’re looking by now. I just have to-‘ she refrained from using the phrase ‘hang in there’ again as her eyes again landed on the bizarre trapeze or whatever it was in the cage.
She made her way to the bars and tested them. Granted, she was incredibly weak, but these bars still seemed pretty solid. So did the small door in the side, bolted firmly shut and padlocked. ‘Iron,’ she thought idly. ‘Huh, you’d think I’d rate a cute, gilt cage, but noooo.’ She rolled her eyes at herself, ‘Yeah, that’s it, losing your mind’s certainly the best way to go here.’ She reached for the padlock and twisted it, testing the strength. Well, she wasn’t going anywhere, certainly not in this condition.
As far as she could tell in the dim light, she and the swing thing were the only things in the round cage. The larger room that contained it was devoid of people and dark. The only source of light came from the hall, where the door was slightly ajar. She looked longingly at the open door, sighed again and sat down to wait for her captors.
Drusilla glided into the room. “Pretty bird, are you awake yet, pretty bird?”
Spike trailed behind her holding a lit candelabrum he hadn’t trusted Dru to carry. He set it on the ground, where it provided a little more light, though it flickered, casting wild shadows on the walls.
Buffy glared at him. “So your little deal seems to have worked,” she spat. “What’s wrong, Spikey, couldn’t catch me yourself, so you needed to cheat?” She stretched slightly, testing her muscles and finding that fortunately she’d regained some strength when she’d involuntarily fallen asleep again from sheer boredom. ‘Yay for Slayer healing,’ she thought grimly.
He shrugged unashamedly, grinning. “Can’t blame a bloke for taking a new tack, luv, can you? After all, it is difficult to get you to play fair as well, yeah? All those friends and family hanging about…mucking up my plans.”
“What I can’t figure out though, is why I’m still alive. What is it, Spike,” Buffy continued, “some ritual you need a live slayer to perform? Selling me to some demon in exchange for something? What possible evil plan could involve me still breathing?”
Spike laughed. “Sorry, pet. You’re not the central component of this little get-together. This time, you’re just bait. I realize that’s disappointing news for you in that universe you’re the center of, but you’ll have to cope for now. You’re meant for a trap for a very special old acquaintance of ours…”
“Angel…” Buffy whispered, horrified, as simultaneously, Dru said solemnly, “Daddy.”
Spike was pleased to hear Buffy unintentionally confirm the conclusion he’d reached about Angel’s feelings about the blond slayer. Her mind had immediately leaped to his grandsire when he’d told her she was bait. This boded well for his plan’s success.
Buffy shot the vampiress an irritated glance. “First, Spike, if someone had to guess who had the recent head injury, I don’t think they’d be picking me. She looks completely out of it.” She snorted.
“Second,” Buffy snarled, “Don’t call me pet. I’m not your pet. You may have me in this cage, but I’m NOT YOUR PET. You’ll be finding that out soon, when I stake you.” Grabbing one of the cage bars, she rose to her feet, trying to hide how much effort was required in the act of doing so.
Spike merely laughed again, but Drusilla drew near the cage. “Swing for me, my pretty pet. Or sing,” she added wistfully, “you could sing like a proper bird. That would be nice. Sing, pretty,” she said encouragingly.
“How about,” Buffy leaned closer to the bars, “I sing a rousing chorus of stake, stake, stake the psycho!” Drusilla hissed and drew back.
Spike rolled his eyes and chuckled. “Not one for a witty comeback, are you Slayer?”
“You will sing.” Drusilla stamped her foot fretfully. “I’ll make you sing.” Then she stared at Buffy, crooning, “Be in me. Be in me…”
Buffy raised her eyebrows and gave her a disbelieving look. “Yes, let me just sing you a looney tune.” She looked at Spike, “That better? Oh wait, maybe that’s too recent a thing for you to get. A recent thing for the living…who grew up in this century…watching tv. Do dead things watch cartoons?” She pretended to ponder this.
Spike smothered his astonishment at the thrall’s failure to take hold. ‘Maybe it’s a Slayer thing. Immunity of some sort. Good to know,’ he thought then took in Dru who was shrieking and lunging for the cage door. “No, princess, not yet.” He caught her around the waist and swung her gently in the direction of the door, setting her down and giving her a nudge in its direction. “Not just yet.”
“I don’t like her, Spike,” Drusilla complained. “She’s not a good bird at all, won’t sing, won’t swing, won’t obey…nasty, nasty thing.” She looked as though she might spring for the cage again, so Spike administered another little push in the direction he wanted her to go.
“Hush,” he murmured in her ear, “Calm down, sweet and go play with your other new toy. You’ll have her for tea, just not today.”
Drusilla pouted. “She’s so naughty; Miss Edith doesn’t even want her to come to tea.”
Buffy somehow thought this was a good thing. She watched as Spike ushered the mad vampiress to the door.
Drusilla clutched at him at the doorway and begged again, “Kill her Spike. Kill her now. It’s not a trilling birdsong we’ll hear from her but a dirge for everything we know…kill her…”
“Soon,” he soothed her, stroking her hair gently. Whimpering, she finally left the room.
“New toy…” Buffy said softly, having heard despite his low tone, “Oh God, those poor people.” Her face crumpled as she fought back tears. “They’re all dead, aren’t they?”
“Yeah, well.” Spike shrugged. “Food you know. Vamp’s gotta eat.” He stared at her, momentarily fascinated, despite himself. “One of those poor people gave you to me, Slayer. You wouldn’t be here without his help, well, possibly not yet anyway,” he amended. “I’m sure I would’ve thought of something.”
Buffy didn’t answer; her eyes on the concrete floor.
“Now,” Spike lit a cigarette and waved it about theatrically, “let’s see, what haven’t we covered yet. You’re,” he pointed at her, “bait. You’re here for now until your boyfriend,” he rolled his eyes and said the word with utmost contempt, “receives my message and arrives, assuming he’s willing to trade himself.” He tapped a finger against his jaw, thinking, “Always a risk, not been very selfless in the past, but-” he shrugged, “really it’s a no lose situation. I get him, Dru gets cured. He fails to show, we see if Slayer blood will do the trick. Can’t hurt to try it anyway.” He said cheerfully. “Oh,” he snapped his fingers, “there’s just one more thing.” He dropped the newly lit cigarette and crushed it under his boot. Walking over to the cage, he drew a key from his jeans pocket and unlocked the padlock, stepping inside.
Buffy lunged at him. She wasn’t at full strength, was still horribly weak in fact, but she had to have enough to- she yelped in surprise as, at the last moment, her body twisted and she fell harmlessly in a tangled heap to one side of him.
Spike said gleefully, “Yeah, that’s the thing, pet. You can’t hurt us.” He wisely kept the fact that the binding spell was limited to Dru and himself quiet. The warlock had done good work, with the spell and the cage he’d summoned up. “You also can’t go more than a hundred feet or so from me or Dru. Did a little spell, you see.” He laughed and fought the urge to dodge as she leaped at him again. As before, she landed harmlessly on the floor. ‘This is fun,’ he thought.
“DON’T CALL ME PET!” Buffy yelled in frustration.
He crouched so that he was at eye level with her. “What should I call you then? Goldilocks?” He reached one black nailed finger out and stroked it down her hair staring into the green eyes shining with tears of frustration.
She drew back and let fly a punch at his nose, her face falling as the punch just halted, an inch from its target. She glared at him again, but he noted with satisfaction, that this time her eyes held fear too.
He patted her head indulgently. “So we don’t really need the cage. You won’t be going anywhere or hurting anyone.” He walked out and closed and locked the door again, shrugging. “Cage is just for fun.” He smirked at her and left her alone.
Spike appeared in the doorway of the warlock’s room. “You can go.” He waved a hand at the weakened man. “You’ve held up your end of the deal. Here’s mine.” He tossed a stack of bills at the man. “No need to count it, it’s all there. Pleasure doing business with you.”The little man grabbed at the cash and his bag and didn’t hesitate to move quickly out of the room. His relief was palpable. The page had been torn and dirty in spots and he hadn’t been entirely sure of those missing words in the text of the incantation and the resulting effect on the spell. His substitution had done the trick, however.