Title: The Red Curse
Pairing(s): Various/Spike, Fred/Wesley, others as story develops
Rating/Warnings: NC-17 (Non-con/Rape, BDSM, torture, violence, language) Previous Parts
Part 18: The Red Curse
On their last night spent with each other, Fred had been hopeful for the future.
Their bare bodies pressed together, she'd rested her head on Wesley's chest and happily mused. There had been a day in sight when they could take a vacation, unbound by the needs of their friends. They'd made plans together, however tentative. “I know it's cliché, but I've kinda always wanted to visit Paris.”
Wesley had smiled. “I'll travel to the Arctic Pole if it will make you happy.”
Fred had giggled against his bare flesh. “I don't know. It'd be a bit too cold to do much in the way of sex.”
She'd raised herself up on an elbow and brought her lips close to his. “All those layers of clothes...”“Mmm. Compelling argument.”
Wesley drifted out of the fog of his memory to an empty hall with blood-spattered walls. Dead soldiers lined the floor. Between them, Illyria stood naked and bloodied, her blue-tinged hair darkened and clumped together by red. It gleamed wetly under the lights.
Wesley had been at her mercy and felt the strength she possessed, but he'd not been prepared to view her manipulation of time as a weapon. Dozens hapless soldiers had their own guns pierced through their skulls by an invisible force, all in a matter of seconds.
And all while wearing Fred's body, and speaking with her voice. The grief threatened to double him over.
“I grow annoyed,” she said, as she shook the gore from her hands. “I do not sense my sarcophagus.”
Wesley struggled to regain control of his vocal cords. “It is here,” he promised. “The Wolfram and Hart records stated it would be warded.”
Illyria tilted her head, as if listening. “The humans flee from the dirt.”
Wesley was not surprised. He hoped that the soldiers had taken his advice and not sent a nuclear missile to the base. It would destroy his only chance.
“A few run another way,” Illyria said. She moved a bloodied, slender foot over a mutilated carcass. “We will follow.”
Spike gagged helplessly against the cock that crammed itself into his throat. Metal bashed against his teeth and made his jaw ring with pain. Tears spilled over his cheeks as he tried to pull in air around the man's girth.
“Ssshh, sweetheart,” Ambrus crooned. “We're going to have to do a lot of retraining with you.”It's not real,
he told himself, even as his mind went perilously close to shutting down in fear. You killed him. It's not real.
From somewhere, Glory laughed. “Oh, but it is real, Precious. And it will be as long as you keep me locked inside your head. All these little nerves in your pathetic brain... I can play them like a piano.”
A particularly hard thrust brought blood to Spike's mouth. He thrashed and tried to pull free, but between the hands in his hair and the straight jacket, he was stuck. His struggles faded and he gave a choked sob, more tears coming free. His head rocked as the thrusts continued.
Glory went on. “There you go. Just give in to it. I mean, it's going to be your life for the next eternity. Or until you go insane. And then I can start in on the real fun.”
Ambrus pulled back and came in Spike's mouth, then held position until Spike swallowed, the thick fluid salty and metallic on his tongue. Ambrus pulled out and shoved Spike downwards to the pillows. When he could breathe again, the man's scent clogged his nostrils, musky and tinged with the burnt scent of dark magic.
Spike coughed and slowly inched himself away and curled into the familiar corner of the bars. It wouldn't save him, he knew, but some small, feverish part of his mind held onto the hope that it would at least delay things for a few extra seconds.
“Where do you think you're going, Precious?”
Spike yelped as a hand in his hair savagely yanked him back to the center of the cage.
Ambrus was gone. In his place, Glory towered over Spike. “This is way too easy. Now, what next? I could wrap leather over your entire head to suffocate you. Or, I know!” Glory's red lips twisted into a nasty smirk. “How 'bout we burn you alive again?”
She immediately disappeared, and a raging fire started on the carpet outside the bars. Spike pushed himself to the back of the cage. He could feel the heat as the flames began to encroach, and remembered searing, seemingly endless agony.
The first pillows began to catch.
A frustrated whimper burst from his raw throat. “Please,” he whispered.
“Nice begging, Precious, but no dice. I really want to see if you acting it out in your head is as funny as your memory.”
The fire rushed forward and swallowed him.
Spike woke up with a scream of terror on his lips. Something held him, and he fought in a wild panic, sharply reawakening the pain of recently being skewered. Another pair of hands were on him and his struggles only grew more frenzied.
“Hey, hey, easy!”
It was the sound of Angel's voice broke him from the vestiges of Glory's torment, and when he was able to focus on his surroundings, the sick feeling of abject terror slowly slid into the back of his mind. He was in the same warded cell, only now he had been freed of the contraption he'd been strapped against. Riley had returned with Angel and the others. In the distance, alarms were still ringing through the base, their noise adding to his headache.
Angel was the one restraining him, and Riley was standing in front of Spike with his hands raised to show he meant no harm. Angel carefully loosened his hands, and Spike's panic tamped down even further. He quickly scanned his surroundings, and saw Kate with her sword at the ready, and Gunn beside her with his crossbow in his hands. Lorne was also there, and the green demon stared at him through sorrow-filled eyes. Eve and Lindsey were in the corner of the cell, the sight of them almost entirely blocked by Xue Fei.
A leather jacket that smelled of Angel covered Spike's bare flesh and shielded him from the eyes of the cell. He tried to still his trembles, and couldn't quite manage it, and ground his teeth in humiliation when he realized Glory's nightmare had made him hard.
“Bloody hell,” he groaned, a shaking edge of tears to his voice. A few fell, and he sharply rubbed the heel of his hand against his cheeks to wipe them away.
Angel had carefully moved away from him. Spike didn't meet his grandsire's eyes – he knew the older vampire could smell his arousal.
“I take it that wasn't just a regular blackout,” Lindsey said.
Spike glanced at the man, who still wore his disguise. Maybe that was for the best – Spike didn't doubt that Angel would become a raging gorilla if Lindsey removed the masking spell. Spike wouldn't be surprised if, holy water shower aside, Angel could still smell traces of the man on his body.
Spike attempted to stand on shaking legs. Fingers closed about his arms to steady him, and he violently jerked away with a snarl. The movement sent him crashing back to hands and knees, pain jolting through his jarred body. He hung his head and panted while his head swam dizzily.
“Come on, man, let us help,” Gunn said.
Spike exhaled heavily through clenched teeth. “Sorry, Charlie, not really in the mood for anyone's hands on me.” Spike's stomach gurgled and he groaned at the added discomfort. “Besides, I'm starving, and your blood pumping right next to me won't exactly help me ignore it.”
A gust of heavy breath came over the back of his head. Spike looked up to see Xue Fei standing with his head bowed low.
Spike nodded in thanks and reached out to grasp handfuls of fur, then held on as the tiger helped pull him to his feet. He kept one hand on Xue Fei in case his legs decided to give out again, and hated the way he instinctively hungrily focused on the pulse beneath his palm.
“Illyria's destroying the base,” Eve said, a bit hysterically. “Did you get any useful information or not?”
Spike directed an irritated look at Eve, at the same time he tried to block out the memories of what Glory had done to him. “I was right,” he said. “The short version is, Glory can't come free, not while I'm hurt. She said it would transfer as if the injury had happened to her. She doesn't exactly have the best tolerance for pain.”
“I'm guessing Glory is the hellgod those demons shoved into you,” Gunn said.
Lindsey frowned. “But that means the instant you heal up she's going to start trying to force her way out again, right?” He twirled his sword. “Might want to wear this through your gut for a few hours, just in case.”
Spike bared his teeth, the offer only stoking his violent mood. “I think the holes already in my belly will hold me over, thanks.”
Lorne swallowed. “So, what's the plan, now? Hide out here until the new demon king on the block gets bored and rampages the countryside?”
“She'll be looking for her sarcophagus,” Eve said. “But she won't find it, or be able to get near it.”
Spike tilted his head in the direction of the casket that sat behind the restraining frame. “Eve's done some mojo with the sarcophagus... some bollocks about Illyria's essence contained in the crystals.”
Riley frowned. “But I can still see the sarcophagus,” he pointed out.
“We all can,” Kate said.
Eve fidgeted nervously. “Yeah, but Illyria won't. She was trapped inside it.” She glanced uncertainly at the walls of the cell. “With any luck, she won't be able to see us, either.”
“Illyria wasn't alone,” Riley said. “She had someone with her. He looked human.”
Spike gripped Xue Fei tighter and stood straighter. “Did this happen to be a haggard-looking Englishman with a gaze of steel?”
Riley nodded. “He said he'd been chosen as Illyria's guide.”
Angel scowled. “Wes.”
Riley gestured with his gun. “He could see the sarcophagus.”
“Yeah, but Wes is on our side,” Gunn said. He looked around at each of them, somewhat uncertainly. "Right?"
Spike's heart ached with grief. He spoke in a flat tone. “He was willing to kill and torture to keep Fred safe, and now she's dead. No telling what that's done to him.”
The alarms suddenly shut off.
The silence was deafening. Spike felt the tension in the room rise. Xue Fei began to heave a stilted growl, and Spike hushed him.
There was a loud click and then the door to the cell began to scrape open. Those with weapons readied them.
Wesley stood on the other side, a stark ring of bruises about his neck. He gazed around at each of the occupants of the cell, then raised an eyebrow. “You are aware that everything that you've done and said in this room has been recorded.”
Wesley took a step inside. Spike tried to gauge whether or not he could stand on his own or if he was going to make a fool of himself and fall on his arse when he took a step without support. Heal, you blasted body,
he thought, for the first time wishing the metal would do its work. At least enough so I can do more than stand here like a useless lump.
Riley moved forward with his gun raised. “Don't take another step.”
Wesley paused and stared at the gun with what could only be described as dead eyes. Then he looked up at Riley. “Go ahead,” he said. “You heard Spike. I've nothing to live for anymore. But if you'd like to listen to what I have to say, I may have a way of defeating Illyria.”
Spike took a few deep breaths. He still felt uneasy, and seeing Wesley in the flesh wasn't making it any better. The man smelled of sweat, blood, and sorrow. “What's your game, Percy?”
Wesley began to move forward. He made a beeline for the sarcophagus.
Angel, clearly having the same doubts as Spike, blocked Wesley before he could reach it. “Wes... I'm sorry.”
Some fire finally entered Wesley's gaze, but his voice remained soft. “Sorry you lied to me again? As if my life is some sort of game to you? This wasn't the only cell with surveillance, Angel. What was it Kate had said? Oh yes, that you'd needed me to 'stay together.'” Wesley pulled free a stun device and pressed it to Angel's neck.
Spike snarled and the others shouted around him and Riley raised his gun. Angel dropped to the floor. Wesley quickly pried a crystal that was inset onto the lid of the sarcophagus and held it up.
Lindsey jerked forward. “Put that back, idiot! You'll break the wards!”
Spike's eyes widened when he realized that whatever mojo that had concealed Lindsey had dropped as soon as Wesley had grabbed the crystal.
Eve had gone white as a sheet. “Lindsey... he broke your masking spell.”
Lindsey reached up to feel at his own face and hair. “Shit.”
Wesley narrowed his eyes. “You're alive.” A bitter smile formed on Wesley's face. “Of course you are. You had Spike as your protector. Pity he couldn't offer the same consideration to the woman I loved.”
Spike ground his teeth as his failure to save Fred hit him like a physical blow.
Kate stepped forward, sword at the ready. “Whatever you're doing, Wesley, you won't be able to get by all of us.”
“How quaint, Kate. You're thinking like a Slayer.” The phrase was spoken like an insult, and with a disdain that raised Spike's hackles even more. Wesley had truly gone off the deep end, then.
The crystal from the sarcophagus was raised in a threatening manner, and Spike pushed off Xue Fei to stumble between them. He clenched his jaw as the movement stung his wounds. “Bloody put it down! You said you had a way of defeating Illyria. What is it?”
Wesley looked Spike up and down, and the contempt in his expression seemed to concentrate until Spike felt a chill run down his back. It didn't help that he knew he looked sodding ridiculous, dressed only in Angel's leather jacket and the gold collar that hugged his throat.
“I was wondering when you would speak up,” Wesley said. “You never quite know when to stand aside.”
“Wesley,” Spike said, “How can we kill Illyria?”
Wesley held up the crystal from the sarcophagus. “These contain Illyria's essence, and they were used to help imprison her. They prevent the holder from being affected by any of her special abilities, by granting them the same power.”
“Like that super speed thing?” Riley asked.
“Yes, but in order to have any luck against her, I will need all of the crystals.”
“She'll kill you, man,” Gunn said.
“Charlie's right,” Spike said. He swallowed. “Give me the crystals.”
Wesley blinked. “You're half naked and you look as if you can barely stand. Besides, it is my duty to avenge her.”
“It's not your duty to get yourself killed by the demon that took her over,” Spike insisted. The grief inside of him began to froth. “I was there. Illyria leeched in slowly, but Fred held on for as long as she could, and was always more worried for my sake. The lass was braver than I could ever sodding hope to be.”
Wesley sneered. “And yet, you're still here.” The insanity in his eyes only seemed to increase. “You know, Spike, if Glory truly will never come forth while you are in pain, there is a way to remedy your situation.”
Wesley plucked at a second crystal, to a background protest from Lindsey. Only two remained in the sarcophagus.
Before Spike realized what had happened, Wesley was behind him, one hand against Spike's forehead while the other locked about his throat. The rest of the room had frozen – the shocked faces of the others, Kate raising her gun, Xue Fei's lips pulling back to bare his teeth, all suddenly occurred in super slow motion.
Spike tried to wrest himself away, but Wesley's grip had become inhumanly strong. Hot air puffed against his ear. “I could never have hoped to do this without additional power, but we'll see about it now. I'd be lying if I'd said I've never entertained the thought of doing this, especially when you selfishly chose Lindsey over Fred. Can you imagine how many have died already because of your failure? How many more will
die? Not you, of course. You'll linger on, no matter what happens.” The hand on Spike's forehead pulled back, until his neck was arched over Wesley's shoulder. “This spell has many names. At Wolfram and Hart, they archived it as The Red Curse. It would be quite useless for some people, but I'd wager you'll fully appreciate its insidiousness qualities.”
Wesley whispered the words of some demon language into Spike's ear. The ex-Watcher's voice grew in strength until it vibrated through Spike's chest and seemed to echo about the room. Spike panted in terror and tried to pull at Wesley's arm, but he couldn't break the man's grasp. He felt dark magic begin to form, the likes of which he'd not experienced since Ambrus's house had been sucked up through the dimensional portal.
There was a sudden blasting noise in his ears. In a panic, Spike reached for the crystals in Wesley's hand. The instant he touched one, he felt a strange power, and gripped at the man's hand to touch more of the smooth surface, until he was able to pry it free.
Then Wesley released him, and he was hit with the full strength of the spell. He dropped to his knees.
Wesley stared down at Spike as the vampire took in shallow breaths. Blue eyes wide with shock directed upwards. “What... what did you do?”
“I provided you with a solution to your problem,” Wesley said. His mouth twisted into an ironic smile. “For your efforts to keep Fred safe, however utterly futile they were.”
Spike bent his head between his arms and whimpered. “Oh god...”
“Yes. She should remain quite suppressed, now, I would imagine. Now, if you'll give me back the crystal, I can finish this.”
But when he reached down to take it from the vampire's shaking hand, Spike scrambled back and moved unsteadily to his feet.
Wesley glared. “This is becoming tiresome.”
Spike's voice shook. “I know. I'm bloody stubborn. And you're right. I tried, but I couldn't save Fred. And it was my fault she was taken in the first place.” He inhaled in a shaky breath. “But I'm still taking the crystals, Wes. We both know I'm the best bet of fighting Illyria.”
“Do we?” Wesley folded his arms. “You are aware that Illyria wishes to subjugate the entire earth.”
Spike scowled. “And?”
“And I'm wondering if that would be a preferred existence for you.”
Spike suddenly bent and moaned and clenched his hands into his hair. He almost fell, but managed to keep his feet, with obvious effort. When he raised his head again, his lips were pursed angrily. He tilted his face in a challenging gesture. “My entire existence has been hell for months. Your little blast of mojo is just more of the same. And I've met Illyria, Wes – she knows she can't kill me, so she thinks the next best thing will be to bring me to heel. But she knows I'm weaker than she is, so she won't be expecting this. Give me the crystals and I'll take her out for both of us.”
Wesley faltered. In the next instant, Spike was suddenly in his face. “Sorry, Wes.” A blow brought stars to Wesley's eyes and he collapsed to one knee. “I may not be as strong as Illyria, but now that the playing field's leveled, I'm at least stronger than you.”
A second blow brought Wesley to darkness.
Lorne couldn't tell what had happened. One instant, Wesley was there, threatening Spike, and the next they were both gone, only to reappear again in the same second. Now Spike stood alone, and Wesley was limp and unconscious on the ground, next to Angel's fallen body.
Riley, who had been about to fire his weapon, cursed and lowered his gun.
“Wes!” Gunn ran forward and checked Wesley's pulse. He looked up at Spike. “What the hell happened?”
When Spike turned to look at them, the pain in his eyes crashed into Lorne. Something had happened all right, something bad. Lorne reached out and felt a deep, scouring wound, something deeper and more permanent than the holes that he'd seen on Spike's body. He knew in that moment that if he even got half a hint that Spike was going to sing, he would run, and as far as he could – anything to avoid the pain that would be revealed.
He was a coward.
“What did he do?” Lorne whispered.
Spike shut his eyes, and a tear fell down one cheek. “Doesn't matter.”
The vampire moved over to the sarcophagus, and there was an alarming stiffness to his movements.
“He's been hurt,” Kate observed.
“S'nothing,” Spike snarled. When he reached the sarcophagus, he grunted and supported himself on the lid. “It's just the holes Puss put in me to stop Glory coming forward.”
With trembling hands, Spike grasped at the final jewels that were placed on the sarcophagus cover.
Spike kept his head bent, and his voice hitched a little as he spoke. “If I take these last ones, the wards will break?”
“And lead Illyria right to us,” Lindsey confirmed. “You can't fucking seriously think that you have a chance against her. Those crystals only have so much power. It'll be better to wait her out.”
"Have to try. Can't have any more blood on my hands." Spike inhaled deeply, and his expression grew steadier, as if smoothed over by stone. “Right then,” Spike snatched up the crystals and stepped towards the open cell door. “Time for me to go kill a demon king.”