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 22: Destinies
Spike's arousal had burnt up like tinder, leaving him worn and raw. He sat at the edge of his large bed, staring off at nothing, still trembling in the aftershocks of violent memories. His room still smelled strongly of Angel, and he narrowed his gaze at the leather jacket that was crumpled against the bathroom wall. He tried his best not to replay Angel's words, lest they re-trigger that particularly nasty set of memories.
“We shall begin again.”
Spike sighed, and another flow of tremors rushed through him. “Sorry, pet. Think whatever magic was in the moment is gone. Touch me, and I'll just be thrust back into memories of torture.”
Illyria's armored form blocked his gaze. “You never leave them.” She bent and placed her hands upon his thighs, her face drawing close to his. He was sure he wasn't imagining the Fred-tinged tone in her voice. “I can make you forget.”
Spike turned his eyes to the side and huffed out an uncertain laugh. “Sincerely doubt that.”
She became fully Illyria again, voice strong and commanding. “Your mental faculties will not remain steady at this rate. Allow me to conquer you, and I promise your only thoughts will be to please me.”
Spike recoiled and quickly slipped from beneath her hands. He staggered across the room, breath coming in fast pants. “You have a bit of an overinflated image of your own powers of seduction. And don't think I can't see what you're doing.” Spike placed his hands onto a table for support. He could feel her gaze on the back of his head. “You want power over me because I can't die, because of this bloody invincibility curse. I get it. But I'm not bowing to your agenda, whatever the hell it is. You're safe... for now, at least. Now leave me be. I have to think.”
Illyria did not speak for several seconds. Then, she said, “As you wish.”
Spike lifted his head as he heard a sound like fabric ripping. When he turned, Illyria was gone.
Drenched in the sudden relief of being alone, Spike collapsed to his knees. His thoughts rolled through him like an avalanche, each boulder of memory sending whispers or lightning strikes of pain. He heard Fred's voice, hurling abuse at him over his inability to save her.
He'd told himself that it had been Illyria that made her speak like that, but what if he'd been wrong? In her last coherent moments, Fred's thoughts could have been of nothing but contempt for him.You selfish git,
he thought. What did it matter what she thought of him in the end? She was still gone, still replaced by the demon to which she'd been so frightened of losing her life. And all because Spike couldn't sit still for one bloody night, because of his need to distract himself from his own pain.
“That turned out brilliantly, di'n't it?” he asked, then pressed his knuckles into his mouth as he was wracked with miserable giggles. He was so tired of holding it together. Tears blurred his vision, and Spike collapsed completely, wracked by sobs.
Angel didn't see Spike for the next few days. He knew the younger vampire was holed up in his room – Xue Fei had returned on the first night, and other than the cat's brief feedings wherein Harmony would shoo him out to the courtyard to relieve himself, he remained as sentinel outside the door. Angel could only assume Illyria was with Spike – since she'd kicked him out, he'd not seen her either.
Angel spent hours alone in his own room, brooding. He visited the workout room several times, usualy with the intention of performing a session of Tai Chi, but always ending with a vicious pummeling of the punching bag and stinging hands.
The interrogation of Wesley was being successfully kept at bay by the fact that whenever Angel checked in on the man he was sitting on a sofa chair in the farthest corner of his prison, unconscious from all the alcohol he was chugging. Harmony was venturing into the cage twice a day to clean.
“My goal is to get him to shower by the end of the week,” she'd announced. “He's really starting to reek.”
Angel didn't see much of Lorne, and Riley was suspiciously absent. The one time he'd passed the latter's room, he'd heard him speaking on the phone, probably to General Sharp. Angel had lingered long enough to make sure the man wasn't going to be any trouble before moving on.
Gunn and Kate had started sleeping together. Angel hadn't seen much of either of them, but he could tell. He could smell it. And, he knew it was only a matter of time before everyone else knew, too, once Harmony got wind of it.
Angel could give Spike a few more days. He figured he deserved that much, before it was time to start coming up with some sort of plan. If not, well... Angel would have to start without him.
He was outside the younger vampire's room again. Xue Fei was stretched out on the floor, freshly cleaned and brushed. Angel stepped around the setigris hybrid and leaned his ear against the door. He could hear muffled murmuring. Angel hoped that Spike was speaking to Illyria, and not devolving into unstable ramblings.
He almost reached for the doorknob. A few more days.
Angel turned his back on the door and headed for the workout room.
Spike had eventually realized that he would need to use the Red Curse to keep himself awake. He stopped running from the worst of the memories, and began to chase after them. He relived certain ones over and over, and they became predictable. He anticipated the greatest pains, and rode them out.
And he tried to tell himself that he was becoming accustomed to it, and becoming better at controlling the pain.
In his more lucid moments, he would allow himself to change to memories of lesser tortures, as he tried to think of the best course of action he would take to stop the spread of the dimensional portal.
He could sense Xue Fei outside the room, and the cat's presence soothed him, even if he wasn't ready for company. He felt Angel a few times, but Spike's grandsire never again tried to barge in after Illyria had run him off.
As for herself, Illyria seemed to enjoy occupying herself by standing perfectly still and watching him writhe helplessly about. Mostly, she was silent. But sometimes she would pipe up, to provide a scathing commentary on his fruitlessness of continuing on without her help.
Between the battles against sleep and the curse, it was easy to tune her out.
On the third day, the raging in his stomach became strong enough that it broke through his other pains, and he again considered choking down some blood. He had to admit that he'd felt stronger after Riley had forced him to drink. Illyria had realized his hunger, somehow – Spike didn't remember telling her, but maybe he'd mentioned it out loud and not noticed. In any case, the demon king had vanished and returned minutes later with a thermos.
When she handed it to him, Spike flashed on Fred, smiling up at him and chattering about Lorne's latest recipe. He forced himself to open the lid, and recoiled at the scent. He could suddenly smell his own blood, strong on the air, and a tearing pain inside. He felt warm lips against his aching jaw.
The thermos dropped from his grasp and sprayed in an arc outwards across the floor. He rushed away from it, into the bathroom, where he dry heaved miserably into the toilet.
He slumped against the cool tile, hands shaking, moans of pain bubbling from his throat. Illyria stepped into the doorway and observed him silently for several moments, before she shut the door on him. He wasn't sure what she'd done, but by the time his fit had been over, the scent of blood was gone.
He'd gathered his strength and returned to his bed, where he collapsed. He had maybe half a moment's peace before a memory began to play. He whimpered in frustration and slung a forearm over his eyes.
“I thought I could do this,” he murmured. Even through the dark, he could see Ambrus grinning. “So sodding weak.” His shoulders shook with sobs, and then he sucked in a breath to steady himself. “Why are you giving up now, you tosser? The blasted earth needs you.” He giggled. “Listen to me, sounding like bloody Superman.”
“You refer to a fictional being.” It sounded like Illyria hadn't found the same amusement in his words.
“I just wish it would stop for one bloody second,” Spike said, a plaintive edge to his voice. He could feel the pain building again. “Can't think properly. Fuck!”
“You must eat.”
“Can't die from starvation, Blue. Can't die from anything.” Those damn tears were building again. He lowered his arm and grunted. “Just going to live on, and on, and on, until the world tears in two. At least I'll have Glory for company.” And then he was laughing again.
“This is not working.” Illyria said. He heard her open a portal, and when he turned to glance, she'd gone.
Alone again, Spike turned over and curled into the fetal position, hands clenched into his wild curls.
He swallowed, and felt the collar against his throat. He'd almost forgotten it was there. It didn't matter. He didn't care enough to even think about having it removed.
If bloody Ambrus could see him now.
Sleep clawed at him and greyed the edges of his vision. He jerked in a panic and forced himself off the bed. He began a rapid pace, hands rubbing his bare arms with harsh intensity. He had to stay awake. His brain focused on running back and forth over memories of pain – like the bare sole of a foot scraping again and again over the same pile of shattered glass.
Lorne paced anxiously in his room, nursing a Sea Breeze. He'd finally decided – tonight he would get out of the mansion. The plan was to get some air, but he knew if he was entirely honest with himself, he wouldn't be coming back. He didn't have anything to offer to their group any more, and Fred's death was just one final strike of heartache too much for him.
That wasn't even considering the fact that every day, he could feel Spike like a beacon. Whatever Wesley had done to the blond vampire had magnified his position on the psychic level on an enormous scale. Even though walls and space separated them, Lorne could feel the pain as clear as if Spike was in the room. It rose and fell, but it was constant. And Lorne felt drained just from being near.
He could only imagine what it was doing to Spike.
Lorne nearly jumped out of his own skin, the chill of alcohol spilling over the back of his hand as he whirled. Illyria stared at him with cold blue eyes set on Fred's features.
“You have helped the white-haired one in the past,” she said. Her head tilted. “Your interactions with him have been nonviolent as well as nonsexual.”
Lorne swallowed, taken off guard by the subject. “Yeah, I... kind of make that a habit. Not too many folks out there looking to partner up with a demon that can tell you if the relationship is going to end in tears the second he hears you humming in the shower.”
Illyria looked frustrated. “I have tried, but he will not have me,” she said. “And he will deny help from his elder. He does not eat, for it makes him ill. His body wastes away. He cannot sleep, because he fears tortures that will come to him in his dreams. Yet he relives torments in his waking moments. If it should continue in this manner, he will soon no longer be of use. His mind will fray beyond all help.”
Lorne felt unsteady on his feet as the full extent of Spike's issues were laid out for him. Wesley had done that? How much hate did a man have to have for that to even become an entertained course of action?
What was happening to them?
Lorne's shoulders slumped. “Sorry. You're barking up the wrong Pylean. Believe me, I wish I had the power to help Spike...”
“Your weakness is why I have come,” Illyria said.
“I'm not quite sure that's a compliment.”
“It is those with power who have caused him harm. He will not trust me. He believes I seek to control him for my own gain.”
Lorne raised his eyebrows, dubious. “You're saying he's wrong?”
“It matters not.”
“Oh, I'd say it matters a whole hell of a yes
, strumpet. Spike's spent a lot of time being controlled recently. I think you'll find everyone here is going to have a few things to say about you trying to slip into the role of master.”
“He finds solace in surrendering. You would deny him this, even if he chose it for himself?”
“What?” Lorne frowned. “You... you're saying Spike's happy place involves his submission?”
“He needs to be mastered, but he will not give in to it.”
“Okay, let's say I even entertained the smallest crumb of that being true – those needs would have come from a place of suffering in body and mind. If you think Spikester's going to find any kind of peace in that, I don't think you realize how high those hurdles of mental trauma are.”
Her eyes shifted into an intense scrutiny that had him resisting the urge to squirm where he stood. “You have the gift of Sight.”
He'd wondered when this was going to come up. Lorne grimaced, and turned away, as if that action alone could be his exit from this conversation. His first response to her statement, off the top of his head, would have involved a lame stammer and a quick body slam through the bedroom window and a crushing fall to the courtyard. He gazed longingly at the curtains that covered the glass. The window would probably win.
Illyria spoke again. “You can read his Fate and set him on the proper path to save this world.”
If only it were that easy. “You mean I can subtly suggest he become your willing slave?”
“Only if that is the best course of action.”
“Seems like Blondie Bear's charmed you over to his side.” Lorne sighed, and felt the Sea Breeze gurgle wretchedly in his stomach. “All right. I'll do it on one condition.” He turned back, and forced himself to meet Illyria's inhumanly unwavering gaze. “You, missy, need to hum a little ditty first.”
Illyria blinked, and Lorne thought he saw a tightening at the edges of her eyes. “You would read... me.”
Lorne gave a bitter smile. “If you're planning on joining our crew, I want to know where exactly you stand with the murderous intent. Who knows? Maybe I'll feel something that will keep me from wanting to vomit every time I look at you.” That last part, he very much doubted.
There was definite anger on Illyria's face, now. “I have no use for singing.”
“That's just because you were dead for most of the hits. I could sing a few bars to get you started, but somehow I doubt Cascada's latest would be on your top five.”
Illyria stared, and did not answer.
He tried again. “I'm gonna need something a bit substantial if I'm going to risk looking into a future of the destruction of the planet. You can even grunt out whatever passed for music back in your old primordial days. Crickets chirping, whatever. The reading doesn't exactly care, just as long as it's music to someone. Uh, but don't let anyone know I said that.”
More silence. It seemed like Illyria would refuse. And then Lorne would refuse in response. He'd feel like the world's biggest pile of green shit, but he'd do it.
Suddenly, Illyria opened her mouth, and Fred's voice rang out, “She needs wide open spaces, room to make her big mistakes. She needs new faces – she knows the high stakes.”
Lorne's brain flooded with information. One fact stood out very clearly to him, and he mentally grasped at it with sudden ecstatic desperation.
He wasn't just seeing Illyria's path. He was reading two destinies at once. They were intertwined at the moment, but they were of two very different beings, and they both pulsed with life.
Fred wasn't dead.