|Chapter Title:||The Initiative, Chapter 18|
|Time line:||December, 1999. Buffy is a Freshman in college, Annie is about 10 months old.|
|Summary:||Buffy and Spike encounter the Initiative first hand. Will they both survive it? Will they be the same after?|
|Rating / Warnings:||
NC17. Content is only suitable for mature adults. Contains explicit language, violence, sex and adult themes which may include rape, attempted rape, blood play and other adult situations that some people may find objectionable. If you are under the age of 17 or find any of these themes objectionable – GO AWAY. Parents, it is up to YOU to control what your children are reading.
“So, you’re married?” Riley was asking her.
“Yeah, kind of a side effect of the pregnancy.” Buffy rolled her eyes like it wasn’t a big deal that she was married. She was doing her best to be charming and get as much information out of Riley as possible.
They sat in the back of the Bronze where they could talk without yelling over the music. Willow and Spike sat a few tables away as backup. Willow couldn’t hear the conversation, but Spike, of course, could.
Buffy laid her hand on top of Riley’s where it rested on the table and smiled. “So, did you talk to Dr. Walsh? Do you think we could, you know, work together?” Buffy made the last two words sound seductive, as if she’d said “make love” instead of “work together”.
Spike clenched his jaw and closed his eyes, counting to ten before opening them again to see Buffy laughing at something the Soldier Boy had said and leaning in towards him like she was ready to tear his clothes off. Spike knew this was the plan, charm information and maybe even an invite into the operation out of the boy, but it didn’t mean he had to like it.
Willow laid her hand on Spike’s shoulder and said, “It’s just an act, Spike.”
Spike nodded, but it didn’t help the churning in his stomach to see Buffy act like a dizzy, horny bint with this ponce.
Spike got up, grabbed his duster and headed for the door. “Be outside. Need a smoke,” he called over his shoulder to Willow.
Spike leaned against the wall next to the back door of the Bronze smoking his cigarette. He didn’t smoke around Buffy and Annie, but there were times when it really helped calm his nerves, like now.
Spike looked down the alley to see Harmony coming towards him. Bloody hell, he thought and rolled his eyes. He really didn’t need this.
“Spikey! How have you been, baby?” She was close to being too close and he put one hand on her shoulder to keep her at arm’s length.
“Harm . . .” he started, then suddenly everything went black.
Inside, Buffy was talking and joking with Riley, trying to get more information, or even a tour of their operation, when she suddenly felt like she’d been hit by a truck. She fell off the stool she was sitting on before Riley could catch her. In a moment, Riley and Willow were both by her side as she looked up from her position on the floor, dazed. “Spike,” she said before passing out again.
Leaving Buffy with Riley, Willow ran out to the alley where she’d seen Spike go, but there was no one there. She ran to the end of building and looked up and down the street. “SPIKE!” she called. Nothing. Walking back to the door, Willow saw Spike’s lighter on the ground. Spike wouldn’t just leave it, she knew. She picked it up and went back to Buffy who had woken up and was seated in a chair, sipping some water.
“Buffy, are you ok? I think . . . if you can . . . I think we better . . . umm . . . go.” Willow looked at Buffy then at Riley and back again. Buffy looked behind her friend for Spike and back to Willow’s pleading eyes.
“Yeah, ok, I’m ok, I just . . . I don’t know what happened. That’s never happened before.” She started to get up and wavered a bit before Riley caught her elbow to steady her.
“Are you sure? Do you need me to take you home?” He was really sincere; she might have even liked the guy if the situation was different.
“No, really, I’m fine . . . I don’t think . . . umm . . . don’t think my husband would appreciate me being brought home by . . .” she let her voice trail off, not really sure how to finish that sentence.
“Of course.” Riley stepped away as Willow held Buffy’s other elbow and began guiding her out the back door.
When they were outside, Willow explained what happened with Spike. “Can you feel him?” she asked Buffy.
“No.” Buffy looked around the alleyway. “But whatever knocked me on my ass, is what hit Spike. I’m thinkin’ stun gun.”
“The Initiative,” Willow concluded. “He’s not . . . not dusted . . . right?”
“No, I’d know if that happened, it’s like he’s not taking calls – maybe unconscious? Let’s go, we need a new plan.” Buffy turned and walked quickly out of the alley and back towards the mansion. Willow followed in her wake.
“We captured this pair together, Dr. Walsh. Would you like them separated or left together?”
Dr. Walsh looked the pair of blond vampires over before responding to the agent who was addressing her. “You can leave them together. Place them in the Motivation Study holding cells rather than the Behavior Modification section.”
Dr. Walsh was pleased, obviously these two were a couple. They had so little information about how vampires functioned as part of a couple, what drove them, what their motivations were. This would be an excellent pair to study.
“So, Dr. Walsh, I thought that I could be a real asset to you in your operation. Riley has told me a little about what you do and I think it’s fascinating.” On Monday morning Buffy was in Dr. Walsh’s office, addressing her Psych Professor and Riley Finn. “I really think I can help. I’ve been fighting the demons here on the Hellmouth for years, I know where they live, where they hide and I’m much stronger than I look.”
Buffy hoped it would be enough to get her into the operation, to find Spike before something terrible happened to him. Willow tried several times to do a locator spell on him, but wherever he was, the magic was being blocked. She couldn't find him.
It had been two nights since he’d been taken and Buffy had finally been able to contact him in a dream the night before. He didn’t have a lot of information to give her, though. Didn’t see who it was or what it was that had hit him. He was in a holding cell and it was definitely the Initiative, but beyond that, he had no way to help her find him and so far, he’d had no chance for escape. Then it felt like a door shut and she couldn’t contact him again after that.
“Yes, I think that would be an excellent idea, Buffy. You know, we really didn’t think that the myth of a Vampire Slayer was true, until Riley met you.” Buffy pulled her thoughts from Spike back to what Dr. Walsh was saying. “Why don’t you come back tomorrow? I’ll secure clearance for you and give you a tour of the operation and we’ll discuss how we can work together from there.”
“Tomorrow? Why wait for tomorrow? I always say, don’t put off what you can do today . . ." Buffy suggested hopefully.
“See you tomorrow, Buffy, after class?” Dr. Walsh dismissed her.
“Right, tomorrow,” Buffy said dejectedly and left Dr. Walsh’s office.
Buffy tried all the rest of that day and night to reach Spike and let him know that she would be there soon, but she could get only fragments, short glimpses, into his mind and never long enough to get more than an impression of what was happening to him. Sometimes it felt like he was sleeping, but several times she could feel intense pain. They were obviously torturing him . . . maybe to find out what a vampire could stand. She curled up on their bed and cried from frustration that she hadn’t protected him and that she could only sit now and wait while he endured God knows what.
“So, where do you keep the HST’s?” Buffy was asking Dr. Walsh as they toured the unbelievably huge cavern under the UC Sunnydale campus that made up the Initiative’s headquarters.
“We have a couple of holding areas, the Behavior Modification section, where the HST’s are implanted with microchips which are designed to keep them from hurting humans, and the Motivation Study section where we study the HST’s behavior and their motivations, what drives them and how they relate to each other. We can include what we learn from these studies into the Behavior Modification chips.”
Buffy didn’t like the sound of either of these holding sections and wondered which one Spike was in.
“I’ll let Riley show you around the holding facilities, I have another meeting I need to attend now. I really hope we can work together, Buffy, I think we can really help each other.” And with that, Dr. Walsh turned and walked away, leaving Buffy and Riley walking down a long corridor of holding cells. There were lots of vampires, but also all types of other demons in the cells. She recognized most of the types of demons, but not all. Some she knew were harmless and she had never really bothered with them, but apparently, the Initiative didn’t make that distinction. She looked hopefully in each cell they came to for Spike, but he wasn’t in any of them.
When they came to the end of corridor she asked, “Is that all the cells?”
“No, there’s the Study section. I don’t normally go in there,” Riley replied.
“Well, I’d like to,” Buffy insisted.
“Sure, ok.” Riley lead her to another locked door, opening it with his key card he allowed her to step inside ahead of him. Buffy knew Spike was there immediately upon entering, she could feel the familiar tingling on the back of her neck growing stronger as she walked slowly down the corridor. There weren’t as many cells here as the other holding area and it didn’t take her long to find him.
He was laying on the floor of the cell on his side, his back to her and as far away from the corridor where she was as he could get. He appeared to be naked, his lower half was covered with a white sheet, which was stained with blood. His back was visible to her and covered in burns, bruises and cuts.
Buffy cried out involuntarily when she saw him and she ran up to the clear electrical barrier that kept him prisoner. “Spike!”
Spike moaned as he rolled slowly over onto his back at the sound of his name, his face and chest were also covered in bruises, burns and cuts, but it was what was lying on the floor on his other side that drew Buffy’s attention. “Harmony?”
Harmony propped herself up on one elbow, holding the sheet up under her arms, to look over Spike towards Buffy. She didn’t appear to have a scratch on her. “Buffy!”
“You know these vampires?” Riley had walked up behind her.
“Yes, he’s my . . . ummm . . . yes, I went to high school with Harmony,” Buffy stammered. “What the hell are you doing with them?”
Riley shrugged. “I just bag and tag, ‘em, Buffy. I don’t really know what they do here; study their behavior?” he offered.
Spike hadn’t moved from where he’d rolled onto his back, the side of his leg now protruding from the sheet he shared with Harmony confirming is nakedness and the fact that he’d recently been beaten on his legs with what looked like a switch or a cane.
“What are you PERVERTS here or something? You put them together and watch them do it? What, you sell the DVD’s on the internet? That how you finance this little operation?” Buffy was furious as she turned on Riley.
Riley, unprepared for her reaction, stepped back and put his hands up in surrender. “Buffy, what’s the big deal? They’re just vampires!”
Buffy’s fist slammed into Riley’s jaw with enough force to send him flying backwards down the corridor. Racing to where he lay unconscious, she grabbed his security card and quickly opened the cell that held Spike and Harmony.
Harmony had jumped up at the commotion and wrapped the sheet around herself, leaving Spike laying beaten and naked on the floor. Buffy ran to him. “Spike. Spike! Can you hear me? Can you walk?”
Spike moaned and rolled his head back and forth on the floor. FUCK! Buffy didn’t know what she expected to find, but this hadn't made her top ten list.
Buffy took her coat off and threw it at Harmony. “Give me that sheet!” When Harmony didn’t move, Buffy yanked it away from her and Harmony scrambled into Buffy’s coat, which was too small, but covered most of her. Buffy hadn’t intended on a full out rescue today, it was supposed to be recon so she could make a plan on how to get Spike out, but there was no way she was leaving without him now.
Buffy wrapped Spike in the sheet and hefted him over her shoulder in a fireman’s carry, heading back to where Riley lay, she grabbed the taser from his belt and kicked him in the ribs. “WAKE UP!” When he didn’t move she did it again. “WAKE THE FUCK UP!”
He finally responded with a moan.
“GET UP!” she ordered, as he looked up at her from where he was sprawled on the floor.
“Buffy . . . what . . . what are you doing?” Riley was trying to comprehend what was going on.
“GET UP! We’re leaving.” She pressed the taser into his ribs. “GET UP NOW!”
Riley struggled back to his feet.
“Where’s the closest way out of here?” she asked, the taser still pressed into his ribs.
Riley nodded towards the door they’d come in. “Only way out.”
“Let’s go.” She pushed Riley ahead of her towards the door. Spike was moaning and only semi-conscious on her shoulder; Harmony followed behind them. On the way out of the room, she swiped Riley’s security card through the control box that read “Main Lock” and looked behind her as all the force fields holding the HST’s suddenly dropped.
Buffy was in Slayer mode and royally pissed off. “Don’t say a word – you walk in front of me towards the exit. If you say one word to anyone, I’ll not only tase you, I’ll stick it up your ass and twist. And don’t think I can’t. You got me?!”
Riley nodded and walked slowly towards the elevator they had come down on. As they passed the other containment area, Buffy stopped him. Opening the main door with the card, she swiped it in the “Main Lock” control box just inside the door and all the HST’s in that area were released, as well.
“GO!” she ordered and shoved the taser harder into Riley's ribs.
Alarms were starting to sound behind them and she heard people shouting and gun fire as the HST’s broke down the main doors to their containment areas. As they neared the elevator, a Faracall demon attacked them. Buffy hit it with the stun gun, but it barely made the demon hesitate. Buffy couldn’t fight and carry Spike, too. She ducked the blow the demon threw at her, but lost her balance, tumbling her and Spike to the ground. Riley took that opportunity to get away from her, running back to where the main fighting was going on with the now loose HST’s to get a weapon and bring back help.
Buffy screamed at Harmony, “Get Spike in the elevator!” before sending the demon that was attacking her backward with a roundhouse kick.
“I don’t take orders from you!” Harmony stood with her hands on her hips and glared at Buffy.
Buffy forgot how utterly stupid Harmony was. “You want to stay undead? Get Spike on the elevator!”
The demon had stumbled back from Buffy’s kick, but quickly recovered and landed a hard right punch on Buffy’s jaw while she was distracted with Harmony. Buffy went down, but swept her leg out at the same time, tripping the demon. Harmony was still just standing there, indignant. Buffy jumped up and grabbed Harmony’s arm, slinging her on top of the demon as it was trying to get up. That bought her a little time and Buffy hoisted Spike back up on her shoulder and raced as fast as she could towards the elevator.
When she got to the elevator, the doors were closed. She pressed the button. Nothing. SHIT! There had to be another way out and she needed to find it now.
“Sewer,” she heard Spike say from over her shoulder, as if he’d read her mind. Buffy looked around the area, they must be below the sewers down here. She looked up – air ducts. Buffy clung close to the wall as she made her way with Spike towards a set of stairs that led to the upper level. Several commandos ran past her, but seemed to be more concerned with the fight in the main area behind her than with worrying about who she was and what she was doing carrying a body wrapped in a sheet.
Making her way upstairs, she stopped next to a large air duct. Setting Spike down, she wrapped her fingers through the grate and pulled hard. It took a few times, but the grate finally gave and came off in her hands. Tossing it aside she peered into the opening, it was big enough for her to crawl in on hands and knees with Spike on her back, she hoped it stayed that big the further it went, but she didn’t have a choice now, she had to get out of here before Riley decided to track her down.
“Spike . . . Spike, can you hear me?” she leaned close to his ear. He nodded slightly.
“Do you think you can hang on to me? I can’t hold you and crawl, too. You have to hang on to my neck, ok, baby?”
Spike nodded again.
Buffy hoisted him up on his feet, leaned him against the wall and pressed her back into him to hold him there. She pulled his arms down over her shoulders and then wrapped them tightly around her neck. Leaning forward, she went down to all fours, bringing Spike down to rest on her back.
“OK, baby, you need to hold onto my neck, now.” She felt his arms tighten slightly around her neck as she started crawling through the opening of the air duct.
It seemed like she had crawled ten miles when they finally came to a grate on the floor of the air duct. Spike’s legs dragged against hers, making crawling through the small space that much harder. Her jeans were torn clean through at the knees and her knees and hands were shredded and bloody from the seams where the metal air duct was put together. Looking down, she could see that it did, indeed, open into the sewers. Deciding that walking through the sewers was preferable to crawling any further, she crawled past the grate and turned slightly sideways to slide Spike off her back in the small space.
"Ok, baby, let go now.” Spike released his hold on her neck and slid off her back down onto the cold metal that made up the duct.
Buffy backed up to the other side of the grate and tugged on it until it came free, tossing it down into the sewer and off to the side of the opening. It was probably a fifteen foot drop to the floor of the sewer below.
“Ok, Spike, I’m gonna have to drop you first and then I’ll be right down, ok?” She got no answer from him, she didn’t know if he could understand what she was saying or not.
Leaning over the opening from the opposite side, she pulled Spike’s feet and guided them down into the sewer below, followed by his legs and hips, then his torso started going and she grabbed him under the arms and lowered him as far as she could before letting him drop. He landed with a splash in the dirty water, face down, the sheet that had been around him snagged on the opening and hung like some kind of demon laundry. She grabbed the sheet and tossed it down before jumping down herself, careful to avoid landing on him.
Thank goodness vampires don’t have to breathe, she thought as she turned him over and pulled him out of the disgusting water. She wrapped him as best should could again in the sheet and hoisted him back to her shoulder. She was exhausted. She hadn’t slept well for the last three days and the adrenaline that had driven her in the Initiative was gone now, leaving her feeling sapped. She didn’t know where they were and was afraid of going the wrong way, but decided that going the same way they had been traveling in the air duct would be the best and, when she found a manhole, she could climb up and see where they were. Maybe find a phone and call Xander or Giles or even her mom to come get them.
One foot in front of the other, one foot, one foot . . . she repeated the mantra to herself as she trudged through the muck. She had long ago stopped smelling it, but she could taste it in her mouth just like she had taken a drink of the offending grossness at her feet. Spike would stir on her shoulder every now and then and she’d tell him it was ok and ask him to just relax and he would stop moving and lapse back into semi-consciousness.
Finally, they reached a ladder leading to the street. She set Spike down, out of the water as much as she could get him, and pulled herself up the ladder. She listened when she got to the top trying to hear if there were any people or cars nearby before she slid the cover off and poked her head up. They were near the Bronze, it was dark out now and no one seemed to be about. She wasn’t sure how she could get Spike up the ladder and out of the manhole by herself, though.
She climbed back down to where Spike was. “Ok, baby, I’m gonna have to go get some help. We’re at the Bronze, but I can’t get you out of here by myself.” She hoped he understood her.
Spike grabbed her wrist. “No.” It was barely a whisper.
“Baby, I can’t get you out . . .”
“No,” he repeated, louder this time.
“Do you think you can climb out?” Buffy asked him, she didn’t see how he could, but it was obvious he didn’t want her to leave him here.
“Ok, I’ll get you to the top, but you’ll have to climb through the hole, ok? Are you ready?”
Buffy looked at him, he didn’t look ready, in fact, he looked worse than when she first saw him in the Initiative. He must have been beaten again just before she got there, because there were new bruises blossoming on his face and chest that hadn’t been there before, and Buffy knew they weren't from anything she’d done getting him out.
Spike nodded and Buffy pulled him to his feet. Buffy stood Spike in front of the ladder, she stood behind him and lifted him, one foot at time, up the ladder. Each time she got him up one more rung, she would move up behind him and start again, one more rung, one more, one more until they were to the open manhole and the street. At the top, he pulled with his arms and she lifted as much as she could from below him until he finally clawed his way free of the opening and rolled over on his back in exhaustion. Buffy followed him quickly, replacing the manhole cover and hoisting him back over her shoulder.
“We’ll be home soon,” she said. She didn’t know if he could hear her or not.
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