Chp 23 Prisoners
We Will Remember Them…
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.
We will remember them
Chapter 23 Prisoners
Buffy woke with a start, realising she’d been asleep, lying across a small table, her head pillowed on her arms. She stared blearily around the little room at the Watchers’ Council Headquarters where she’d been asked to wait. How long had she been unconscious, dreaming of Sunnydale and Spike? She glanced at the window – it didn’t look that bright outside, probably late afternoon. Oh God, was Spike was still a prisoner at the airfield? Was Aurora OK? What the hell was going on?
She realised it had been voices outside her door that had woken her. She struggled to open it – the lock seemed stuck – then it suddenly flew open and she found two young men standing there, smiling at her.
The one sporting a large moustache said brightly, “I say, sorry to disturb you, but I’m looking for Angus? The chap you arrived with? Angus Rae? Have you seen him?”
Buffy blinked. “No, yes, he was going to speak to – Sir Philip, is it?”
The young man pulled a face. “Oh Lord, I’d better not disturb them but I really need to get a replacement for the staking tonight. There’s a darts match down the pub and I can’t afford to miss it otherwise I’ll lose my place on the team.”
“Yes, some vamp we’ve got shut up downstairs. Bloody nuisance. I know I’m on stake call but there must be someone who can swop duties with me. I was told you were in on the fun as well.”
Buffy felt the exhaustion draining away from her body. “We’re going to stake the vamp?” she said, trying to keep the revulsion from her voice.
“Well, you are and whoever I can get to take my place. Rotten luck – I don’t often get a chance to do a real staking but can’t afford to let the chaps down at the pub. We’re in the semi-finals! See you later. Get the lads to drop you off at the Oak and Thistle if you’re done by ten. I’ll buy you a pint. There’s sure to be some Yanks around from one of the bases. You’ll feel right at home. Well, must be off. Holcraft, old chap, a word if I may…”
Buffy turned back into the room, the door closing behind her. The musty air tasted sour in her mouth. So that was what the Council had planned. They’d gone back to the barn while she slept, captured Spike and he was to be dusted in some sort of evening’s entertainment. Obviously they thought she would be delighted to be involved, and to be fair, why wouldn’t they? Slayer – vampire – you didn’t need to be a genius to work out the equation.
She glanced out of the window and winced. The sun was going down; she must have slept for hours! But why the heck hadn’t someone woken her? Surely the head of the Council should want to speak to her, discover what had happened to Joy and why they had another Slayer in their country while the first one was still alive? But apparently they had just left her to sleep. Even the “nice cup of tea” that Angus Rae had promised her hadn’t appeared and as for the hot shower! Forget it!
Buffy tried not to work out exactly how many days she’d been wearing the same clothes or the last time she’d washed her hair. There was something weird about this whole situation and, rightly or wrongly, she wasn’t going to sit back and let them kill Spike.
She gave the door a hard shove, the latch snapped back and wincing, she heard wood splinter. Sometimes Slayer strength could be so bad! She’d offer to pay for the damage except – she grinned, she had a very crushed five dollar bill in one of her pockets and that was all.
There was no one around, the two men had vanished – but somewhere in the depths of the house she could hear someone laughing and there was a strong smell of frying onions. For a second she was back at the DoubleMeat, dishing out burgers, the grease clinging to her hair and skin. It was weird to realise that in the future, that life was still there, boring, monotonous, dreary. Only Spike made it bearable. She looked at the thought for the first time without shying away, handled it, polished it and refused to put it away in the Spike drawer in her brain that she usually kept shut and locked.
Suddenly she frowned. On the floor next to the door were five or six cigarette ends! She could have sworn that they weren’t there when she first went into the room. So someone had been standing outside her door for a couple of hours, or more. All the time she had been asleep – almost as if – she shook herself. Now she was beginning to imagine things, but the words still came unbidden into her mind, almost as if she’d been a prisoner and he had been her guard.
“Why the heck would they guard me? I’m on their side.” She remembered how odd the lock had felt when she first tried to open it. Had Moustache Guy opened it from the outside when she rattled the handle? And perhaps the latch hadn’t been stuck just now, but locked.
‘OK, I can understand them keeping Spike in prison, but what the heck have I done to upset them. Stupid Council. That guy said they were holding the vampire downstairs,” she muttered, gazing up the stairs that rose in a great swirl out of the hall and vanished up into the gloom of the gallery above. “I reckon there must be cellars in a house this old.”
A narrow passageway led from the back of the hall towards the back of the house and there in the wall was a narrow door. The wooden panel at the bottom was marked and dented, as if heavy boots had kicked it many times – probably by guys trying to hold a struggling prisoner while they opened the door, Buffy thought grimly.
She turned the handle, feeling relief sweep over here when the door creaked open. She knew she would have kicked it in without any hesitation if it had been locked, but that would have made too much noise and she was hoping she could avoid confrontation with the Council’s guards.
A narrow flight of stone steps led down into complete darkness. Buffy fumbled along the wall and found a light switch, but the single bulb that flickered into being hardly did more than throw a little relief into the shadows.
She skimmed down steps that were shiny from centuries of wear. Another dim bulb at the bottom shed a little light on a long corridor, stretching away into the distance. Buffy groaned – there were doors all the way along, obviously leading into different parts of the cellar. Which one held Spike?
She reached out to touch the nearest door and a frizzon of feeling ran through her palm and fizzed through her body. Vampire! And not just any vampire. Spike was behind that door. Her Slayer senses told her that, but so did her heart.
Suddenly there was a noise from above her head and the beam from a strong flashlight bounced around the walls before settling firmly on her face. “Ah, our American Slayer! It’s a Miss Summers, isn’t it? I’m so sorry I haven’t had the pleasure of making your acquaintance. I have been so very busy. There is a War on, you know.”
Three men walked down the steps – the tall man who’d been speaking bore an uncanny resemblance to Quentin Travers except he was much slimmer. Behind him came Angus Rae and a tall, dark-haired man who looked pale and ill.
Buffy fought back the urge to punch Sir Philip on his aristocratic nose. She was the last person who needed telling there was a War going on; she’d been in the thick of it for the past few days.
“We must have a nice long chat very soon, my dear. I can’t quite understand how you can possibly be a Slayer when our dear Joy is still alive. You see, it really doesn’t happen like that.”
“I am the Slayer – you know, one in each generation, super strong, good with pointy stakes. If you’ll just let me explain – ”
Sir Philip held up a hand. “Yes, later, later, I’m sure it’ll all be fascinating. You Americans are always so eager to leap into everything straight away. Just a little tiring. Now over here, we like to do things in order. And our first priority is to rid the world of that thing in there – William the Bloody. And, of course, my dear young lady, if you are, as you say, a Slayer, then you will have no problem with the, er, dispatch process, so to speak. And if you can’t – well, you see, some of my colleagues are under the impression that you are a German spy and, as you can imagine, we have ways of dealing with those that will not be pleasant. Indeed no.”
Buffy stared at him. “A German spy? I’m American!”
Sir Philip shrugged and brushed a piece of dust from his elegant suit lapel. “The two things are certainly not incompatible, my dear. But time will tell. We will watch your prowess in staking the vampire and that will tell us a great deal.”
Angus unlocked the door and Sir Philip gestured for Buffy to go inside. The cell was dark and damp oozed from the stone walls and ran in great green streaks down to a filthy earth floor. A click and a weak light beamed down and Buffy felt nausea rise in her throat and her stomach churned.
Spike was hanging in chains from the far wall. His brown hair was matted with fresh blood, his flying jacket was gone and the jersey he’d been wearing was torn open to show great dark bruises and cuts all over his chest. Buffy felt her hands curl into fists. He looked far worse than when he’d had that run-in with Glory and he’d been pretty badly beaten up then. But at least you expected that from a mortal enemy. These guys were the Council – he was working for them. OK, they didn’t have to like him, but this - !
“Not a particularly pretty specimen,” Sir Philip’s voice was bleak with distaste. “It’s hard to believe that this is William the Bloody. We have all sorts of danger flags next to his name in our records, but really, he is just a common or garden type of vampire after all.”
On the far side of the cell, Spike raised his head, blood dripping from his chin. Eyes that were half shut with swelling flesh fought to open and Buffy felt her heart skip as he looked straight at her.
“Oh it’s the Slayer. Come to finish me off, pet?” He licked his lips, his voice no more than a whisper. “Well, they’ve made it nice and easy for you.”
“Spike – I – I’m – sorry – ”
“Oh please! What are you sorry about? Part of the game. I’ve lost, you’ve won. Just get on with it. I reckon they’ve already dusted Dru, so I might as well go as well.”
“We might be best advised to keep him alive and question him some more,” the dark-haired man said quietly.
“Oh, I think that would be a waste of time and resources. And you really should be on your way to Rochester, old chap. No, the vampire has a good grasp of the situation,” Sir Philip said dryly. “Angus, perhaps you could provide Miss Summers with one of our stakes?”
“I have my own,” Buffy replied automatically and pulled it from her waistband. She didn’t notice the dark-haired man’s expression change and his hands ball into fists as he took a small step forward. She walked up to Spike, noticing as if from far away that her hands were steady, without even the faintest tremble.
She stood in front of Spike and he struggled to raise his head again. For a second he vamped out, then the gold faded away and he grinned. “Go on, Slayer. Don’t hang about. Hell’s waiting for me and I don’t want to annoy anyone in power down there! Oh and the last few days – fun, sweetheart. No complaints at all.”
“Don’t be ridiculous. You know damn well I’m not going to stake you!” Buffy snapped then whirled round to face the men. “There are three of you, OK, but I’m the Slayer and I can take you all out. Now, I want you to unchain him.”
To Sir Philip’s credit, his expression hardly changed. “As I thought – a German spy! Well, well, that is interesting. And how do you think you are going to escape, Miss Summers, even if we do release the vampire? You won’t even get out of the house.”
“We’ll take our chances. And I am the Slayer!”
“And if I refuse to release him? I only have to raise my voice and guards will appear. If you are the Slayer, you can’t hurt any of us, can you? We’re not vampires or demons.” He rubbed his chin. “How interesting. Angus - Monroe – ”
“I’ll be delighted to stake him,” Angus snapped. “Get out of the way, Miss Summers. I have no compunction about hurting a girl, Slayer or no Slayer.”
“I can’t let you do that!” The dark-haired man stepped forward and to Buffy’s astonishment he had a small gun in his hand. “Unchain the vampire, Angus.”
“Sorry, Sir Philip, but I think this is important.”
“You wouldn’t dare shoot us.”
Monroe shrugged, his face weary and pale in the light from the flickering lamp overhead. “My career in the Council is finished, I know that. And I think I have caused more trouble than I imagined possible. I don’t understand…it shouldn’t be like this…”
“You’re rambling, man!”
“Unchain the vampire.”
Angus looked questioningly at Sir Philip who nodded and Buffy slid her arms round Spike’s body as it fell from the wall.
“Can you walk, vampire?”
“Well, I don’t reckon Miss America can carry me.”
“Yes, I could,” Buffy said calmly, supporting him as they staggered across the cell. “And I will if necessary.”
“Oh, I love it when you’re bossy!”
“Shut up, Spike. We’ve got to get out of here – fast.”
She watched as Monroe slammed the cell door shut on Sir Philip and his henchman and shot a large bolt across. He turned to them and she could see beads of sweat on his forehead: the man was obviously ill.
“Right – we need to move.”
“Where are we going?”
Colonel Monroe shut his eyes briefly, then headed up the stone steps as a muffled shouting and banging could be heard from the cell behind them. “To find the one person who can help you, Miss Summers. If she will.”
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