Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project
Secret Slasha – The Buffy the Vampire Slayer & Angel Slash Fanfiction Secret Santa Project

By Branwyn
For Charmin

It was enough to be silent.

Not that it stopped the frantic hum in his head which, reviewed in slow motion, would probably turn out to be his own voice repeating "I'm gonna die" at a frequency only dogs could hear. But it was enough to earn his gratitude in the moment.

He could no longer tell how long he'd been here. Willow might have been able to calculate it by an algebraic equation that divided the depth of the gashes on his wrist by the roughness of the rope fiber, equaling Xander Has This Many Minutes Left to Live, but he had seen proof tonight that his special talents were limited to "being a useless liability" and "throwing away his life on a noble gesture." Still, he had stopped screaming almost an hour ago. At which point Angelus had lost interest in him and stepped outside, presumably for a cigarette and Xander still hadn't reconciled the whole "vampires smoking" thing with the "vampires can't breathe" thing but that was ok because figuring it out was a useful means of passing the time while he hung, suspended his wrists, waiting for Buffy's boyfriend to come back from having a smoke with his boyfriend, their insane mutual girlfriend trailing behind them with her sick giggles.

Waiting for them to come back and kill him.

Or, worse -- not kill him.

It was good to have stopped screaming. It was good to be alone, even if it meant a surge of new terror every time he heard voices, rustling, in the distance.

He couldn't see Giles from the vantage point he currently occupied. Hadn't heard him yet, either, but that wasn't too surprising -- Giles was a Watcher. Brave. On the rare occasions he rolled his shirt sleeves above the wrist, Xander had seen scars that spoke of other days -- other vampires -- other bugshit sadists who couldn't get it up until they'd seen or swallowed enough blood. Xander would have scars now, presuming he lived long enough for the wounds to heal. He wondered if he would still have them when he was Giles' age.

He wondered if Giles had screamed when he first got his.

Xander wasn't nearly done screaming. If by some miracle he got away before they came back for him again, he would have to find a basement somewhere, a deserted field, or maybe just a good thick pillow -- the kind you cried into at night when you couldn't let your parents hear -- and scream his throat bloody. Better, that way. Better than swallowing it, feel it crawl in his stomach till it wormed its way into his dreams and he started to scream in his sleep.

Assuming he ever slept again. Assuming Buffy found him before Angelus peeled the eyelids from his eyes like skin from a grape. He had promised him that -- among other things.

The stench of lukewarm blood no longer turned his stomach, mostly because he couldn't be sure how much of the smell was coming from him and how much was coming from Jenny, limp, on the ground a few yards away. Her face, and what was left of her throat, were turned to the floor. For which Xander had just enough strength to be grateful.

They hadn't shown her body to Giles yet. Xander suspected that she was the finale of a macabre drama being staged for Giles' benefit, beginning with the picture -- a pencil sketch of her wide-eyed face -- which had drawn the two of them here, initially. Angel had wanted Giles for something more than his freakishly high tolerance for pain, and Jenny's body, Xander suspected, would be the last resort, after the torture inevitably failed to produce the information he needed.

Xander couldn't help but notice that Angel, knowing that torturing Giles would not get him what he needed, had spent the last hour doing it anyway. This made him unreasonably angry for some reason, even more so than the fact that Angel had spent at least half that amount of time doing as much to him, for no discernible cause at all. Looking back on the situation ten years from now, he would probably be able to observe, in a casual way, that his relationship with his father was responsible for his reaction to Angel. At the moment, however, he was limited to praying that when Angel returned he would make some kind of mistake and kill him more quickly than he intended.

If he was lucky, maybe his body could feature in the drama too. An addendum to the finale: "and yeah, so I killed your girlfriend, but I also took care of your annoying sidekick, so how about helping me out?"

Angel and Drusilla were both capable of moving so lightly and so quickly that their footsteps did not sound against the high, echoing walls. One of the wheel's on Spike's chair squeaked, however. It was the kind of detail, Xander now realized, that Buffy always noticed, causing her to stop suddenly in the middle of whatever she was doing and look for the danger no one else could tell was near. It was the kind of detail that Xander was usually making too much noise to notice himself. Except that tonight his every sense was alert and straining for input; he heard the creaking wheel as clearly as a gunshot, and so he never even jumped -- no doubt much to Spike's disappointment -- when Spike spoke suddenly from behind him.

"You'd think he'd have learned his lesson about these gypsy girls by now."

Spike continued wheeling himself forward, past Xander, stopping beside Jenny's body. He looked down -- shook his head. "Waste of a fine looking bird, if you ask me." He stared at her for a second, then looked back at Xander over his shoulder. "Looks a bit like Drusilla, don't you think?"

Xander saw nothing when he looked at Drusilla except for confusion and imminent death. "Uh...."

"Told Angel he wasn't going to get anything out of the Watcher without something to trade, but there's no talking him out of these little displays." Spike was facing forward again, but Xander distinctly heard him sniff. "Bloody Catholics. All the same. I mean, just look at Dru."

"She's kind of a theme with you tonight." It was difficult to infuse the words with just the right note of careless insinuation when the swelling in his lower lip made his pronunciation thick and drunken. "If she's such a big deal to you, why do you let Angel spend so much groping her?"

Slow, deliberate turning of the wheelchair. Spike advanced on him until he was as close to Xander as he could get while seated. Xander held his breath.

Then Spike smiled. "I'd watch my mouth if I was all trussed and helpless in a house with three vicious demons, love."

"Yeah, cause they might torture me. Gotta make sure that doesn't happen."

Spike snorted and rolled backwards a few feet. "Far as Angel's concerned, this -- " he waved in the general direction of Xander's injuries: three broken fingers, one broken nose, a split earlobe -- "was a love tap. The real party's been going on back there with our friend the librarian. You were the torturer's equivalent of a palate cleanser."

Which stung; proving to Xander once more that, at the end of the day, he was pretty much a moron. "Your point?"

"My point is, don't kid yourself that it can't get worse. There are still plenty of reasons for you to behave yourself."

"You can't possibly be hinting that I might get out of here alive." A flare of irrational hope.

Spike shrugged. "Play your cards right..."

There was something about hearing Spike say that which disturbed Xander more than anything else that had been done to him that night. It was one thing for a vampire to promise, directly or indirectly, to do something evil -- to disembowel him, drain his blood until he was dry -- but it was something else entirely when that vampire started to sound less like a blood-sucking fiend and more like a fraternity boy bargaining for favors on a first date. It went beyond frightening. It was down right creepy.

"Spike? My hands have been tied over my head for the last two hours. I don't have any cards. I couldn't hold them if I did."

Spike smirked, which shifted the whole thing back onto familiar ground. Xander was relieved. For about three seconds.

Then Spike stood up from his wheelchair, walked to where Xander was slumped, and bent to pull a knife from his boot.

He stood there a second, smiling. Xander gaped, and battled the bizarre urge to call Angel for help. Or at least a distraction.

Xander shut his eyes as Spike's knife hand came toward his face, and did not open them again until his body hit the ground long before he was aware that he had started falling. When he did look again, his freed hands were at eye level before him.

Numb and useless, they were still loose. He sat upright, balancing his dead limbs against his chest. "Still can't hold the cards, Spike. Take a few minutes, waiting on the blood. Which I'm sure you already know, what with the hearing and the smelling -- "

"Your little Slay-pal's come and gone, Alexander." Spike fell back into his wheelchair, which rolled backward several feet. "She came, I watched, Angel got his arse whipped. Again. Just like I bloody told him."

"She..." Xander was suddenly aware how dry his mouth was. "She's gone?"

"Took coma-boy with her, and skedaddled. Evidently you haven't been missed yet, and the Watcher, being limp and silent, wasn't in a position to tell her."

"You could have." The accusation came out before Xander could exert any conscious control over his mouth. He winced, even before Spike started laughing.

"Too right. Could've gone and gotten myself staked on your behalf. What was I thinking?"

Xander barely heard him. His mind was filled with images of Buffy fighting Angel, Buffy freeing Giles, Buffy helping Giles out the door and outside, where Cordelia was probably waiting to drive them home, and shouldn't Cordelia have noticed that he was missing? When Giles woke up, he would assume that Buffy had rescued Xander at the same time she found him, and it might be hours before his own mind was clear of enough pain to ask after him. At which point Buffy would come racing back here to look for him, and she would find his artfully defiled corpse arranged somewhere on the floor near Jenny's. She would be shocked, and angry, and eventually she would kill Angel, and if they were around she might kill Spike and Drusilla as well, for good measure. Then she would go home and tell the others, and Willow would start sobbing, and Cordelia would sit down heavily, stunned and silent, and Giles would take off his glasses and not clean them, and Buffy would get really quiet. They would all stay that way for about a week, or possibly two (except for Giles, who would need to put his glasses back on before that) and then their lives would go on. And Xander would still be dead.

It was amazing, how many thoughts you could cram into the space of two or three seconds -- how far ahead you could sometimes trace a logical chain of events, hundreds of instances of cause and effect leading from one event to another, all in the space of a moment.

Reality was disarmingly surreal when it first penetrated the brain.

"Here now, pet." Spike's face, suddenly mere inches from his own. "Doesn't have to be as bad as all that."

His arms were not yet done being useless sacks of bone and muscle and not enough blood, so he couldn't push Spike off him when the vampire's bizarrely room temperature lips came down on his own, strangely gentle against the swelling from Angel's blows.

Seconds passed; Xander had visions of spending his last moments of life this way. There were minutes, God only knew how many, left to him before Angel came back. And he no longer had any friends to shock.

Spike slipped a hand between his legs, gentler even than his lips had been, and Xander remembers suddenly how much screaming is left in him. Then Spike's hand becomes harder, stronger against his crotch, and he decides that, for the moment, it's better to swallow them.

Nightmares would come, one way or the other. Some were inevitable. Others could be of his own choosing.

Xander was old enough to appreciate that the ability to choose was always a gift.