Chapter Ten - Playing Games


His head was pounding and he could feel that a bump was forming in the back of his head, where Angelus had initially struck him. The brown rope that was being used to restrain him to a cold, steel pole protruding from the cemented ground was causing his wrists to become decidedly sore and painful. He was fading in and out of consciousness, causing the light to dwindle and the dark to come with ever blow of Angelus' fist to his flesh.

Angelus stepped away in satisfaction; he was barely breaking in his new game, and he couldn't recall the last time he had so much fun. The only thing that would have bettered this was if the slayer were to be in the knight's place, but this act of revenge was just as sweet of an idea...for the duration. Next time, thought Angelus with an insidious grin, next time she will be, but for now...he struck Xander's face again... this will do.

What the slayer saw in this pitiful little creature he didn't know, nor did he want to know. He rather understood her infatuation with himself; it made sense, although she was in love with his former *sickening* self. His eyes fell to his game and Angelus silently decided to prolong the dismal existence of the white knight. After all, thought Angelus as he kicked Xander's foot and he saw it move almost lifelessly, it's more fun to kill from within...

@~~`~~~

The light swayed back and forth, as Giles' eyes tried to focus upon it as he woke up. He felt awful as he tried to stand up, which only to succeed in his falling back down again. It took him awhile, but it was beginning to recall all the events that had occurred that had caused him to be in the position that he was in now. He remembered that he had discovered a prophecy in a new text that he had just received...

..."Okay, Giles, does this mean what I think it means?" Buffy asked with raised eyebrows as she glanced at the marked passage, "The day has come for the weak to rise and trouble of two becomes a thrice?"

"I'm afraid, your assumptions are correct," he replied with a sigh as he cleaned his glasses with a handkerchief.

"Spike's going to get repowered," she said softly as she sat down, wondering how she was going to handle three super-powerful vampires when she could barely handle two.

"Not unless we stop the ceremony before it can occur," interjected Xander, but then he sighed, "How are we going to do that if it's just the three of us?"

"Will just had to book it to that computer convention with her parents today," said Buffy, and her thoughts of Willow turned to Oz as she sourly continued, "And Oz is out of service, it's a full moon tonight."

"And we can count Cordy out," said Xander thinking how she was lacking in vampire slaying participation ever since they broke up and Colin came into the picture. "So, I guess it's gonna be three for three."

Buffy stifled a laugh and replied, "With you guys, those aren't exactly the best odds."

"Thank you for the vote of confidence," said Xander sarcastically.

"Enough you two, we have work to do," said Giles with a sigh, who didn't much like her joke either.

"I gotta make an appearance at home, Giles, so I'm gonna have to meet you people at the warehouse," she replied, recalling her mother's complaints of not seeing her anymore.

"I'd rather have all of go together," he replied hesitantly, "but if it is necessary, I suppose we can meet, um, say, in half an hour?"

"Fine with me, and it is very necessary, a Mom mad is never good," she replied and before she left she continued, "I'll bring the stakes."

"One day," retorted Xander to the Watcher when she left, "I wished she would mean the kind that normal people eat."

"Are you proposing that w-we're not normal?" Giles asked as he gathered a few crosses from a trunk in his office.

"G-man, slaying vampires goes beyond the boundaries of normality," said Xander and then he paused and said, "Good God I'm talking like Willow."

"Quite," Giles said with a smile.

"Close, but no cake," a voice said as the library doors loudly.

They became silent as their eyes became fixed on the figure that had entered their usually quiet domain. Angelus stood in front of them with the face that made them recall the memories of his former self. He approached them loudly as his leather soles pounded on the linoleum that titled the entrance to the library, but such footsteps became softer as he reached the mainly carpeted area.

"What, no hello?" he asked as he looked at them, "Giles, long time no see, how's that girl- oh, forgot."

Xander saw Giles wanting approach Angelus with crossbow in hand, but he knew this Watcher was no match for the powerful vampire, and restrained him from going towards him, "No, Giles, it's not your fight."

"The White Knight's right, Old Man, we aren't destined to battle, you and I," the vampire replied as he continued to walk towards them.

"W-white knight?" he stuttered in confusion and his eyes glanced at Xander and then fell back to Angelus, "I don't quite understand."

"I suppose your acts of protection have also been disregarded by the eyes of the Watcher, Xander," he said and then he laughed, "Not as if they were excellent displays of true heroism."

"What do you want?" Xander retorted acidly, ignoring his comment.

"To kill you," he said simply, as if it were the most normal answer in the world, "But first..."

...Giles groaned and recalled that Angelus had knocked him out quite well. It was then that he realized that Xander was not anywhere to be seen, and he grabbed the crossbow that lay on the floor, where he had knocked it down when he, himself, had fallen. Standing up as quickly as his feet could carry him he walked out of the library muttering, "Oh my God, Xander. I do hope he's all right," but in his mind he knew that with Angelus involved he was probably anything but.

@~~`~~~

Buffy blew a strand of blonde hair from her eyes in exasperation as she glanced around impatiently for any sign of her watcher and Xander. She had been waiting there, behind a stack of crates in front of the warehouse, for the last half-hour and to her avail, they had yet to come. The ceremony within was going to start at any minute and she knew that they couldn't afford lost time. Technically, she had every right to be annoyed, but in actuality, worry overcame her aggravation.

"Where are they?" she muttered, again, as she peered above the dirty, broken crates for them.

Glancing at her stakes and her own personal fighting cross, she wondered if this was enough for her to battle against Drusilla, Spike, Angelus, as well as the rest of the vamp squad that was partaking in this little extravaganza. Despite the drastically uneven odds, she swung the knapsack on her shoulders, she hoped that when it came time to fight, there would be someone there to help her. The door creaked as she opened it and she carefully closed it ensuring that no one would hear her arrival and with a deep breath, prayed that she wasn't sealing her fate, as well.

@~~`~~~

Xander groaned as he pulled himself from the dark unconscious state that he had maintained for the last half-hour. His head was throbbing and he felt that a gash on his cheek was bleeding heavily. When he tried to move his wrists, the dry, brown rope tore into his abscessed skin, inflicting him with a pain that made him shudder.

"I see your awake," said Angelus with a smile as he patted Xander's gashed cheek lightly in an almost playfully manner. He glanced at the blood that had stained his index finger and carefully tasted it; "A little too sugary sweet for me, but Drusilla will want you for her little blood feast later tonight." Xander was silent and just glanced at his captor icily, which caused Angelus to continue, "What, no talking from the white knight that never seems to shut up? I'm surprised. Really I am."

"Go to hell," Xander muttered as another wave of pain hit him and he bitterly continued, "Already."

"Been there, done that," he replied with a smile.

"What do you want, Angelus?" Xander asked, his eyes glanced sharply at the dark figure, "Besides to kill me that is?"

"Answers," he returned simply as he took a seat on a crate near him, "From you."

There was a moment of silence in the room as eyes of evil met those of the virtuous, and then the hush was broken, "What do you want to know?"

@~~`~~~

The ceremony had yet to begin when Buffy had crept into the warehouse. She had hidden behind a piece of machinery and it gave her a good view of the main aspects of the ceremony. Drusilla was dressed in a sleek, black dress that was noticeably from the days of yore, while Spike wore more modernized clothing. A glass was filled halfway with blood, Drusilla held it to his lips, and he drank it readily. Another vampire was cloaked with a robe and bowed, holding a book above his head.

Her eyes moved as she saw Drusilla open the book and place it on a table and she nodded her head, initiating the rite. Words spilled from her mouth as she read, and Buffy wasn't too sure, but she thought that they were in Latin. The black enamel on her nails seemed to darken and glow as the words continued steadily. Buffy heard herself intake breath when she saw that glowing black streaks were forming at the tips of Drusilla's fingernails. As the black streaks began to increase in size, Buffy realized that this energy was going to recharge Spike.

"No time like the present," she muttered as she saw Drusilla's arms beginning to drift to where Spike sat.

Buffy grabbed a stake, ran out of her hiding place, and did a few somersaults before kicking Drusilla in the stomach. This caused the vampire to scream out in pain when she hit the brick wall with a thud. The black streaks cease to come from her fingers, but the excess black streaks were shot into a stack of crates, causing a cataclysmic crash.

"You've ruined everything!" Drusilla stormed as she stood up angrily, "Now Spike'll never recharge! Get her!"

The slayer clenched the stake in her hand and she punched the first vampire her free hand, all the while she began to hum, "Hm-hm-hm-hm-hm-hm (Buffy theme song)." Her humming continued as she began hitting, kicking, and staking the various vampires that approached her. It stopped abruptly when one grabbed her leg and threw her to the floor.

"That does it, you made me mess up my song!" she said with a sigh as she got up and punched the vampire that had caused her to fall and then she staked him. She looked around and saw that everyone had retreated out the door, including Drusilla and a wheel chair wheeling Spike. Buffy grabbed the bag that she had dropped on the floor and she heard the door creak. Turning around quickly, she got into fighting stance, but quickly drew out of it when she saw Giles standing with his crossbow.

"Thank God you stopped the ceremony, Buffy," he said as he walked towards her and handed her the crossbow.

"What do I need this for, I already kicked enough vampire butt for the day," she said as she eyed the weapon in her hand, "Where were you, I waited, and where is Xander, now?"

"W-we were collecting our things to leave, just when you had taken off for home, a-and well, Angelus came," Giles said with a deep breath and he saw Buffy's wide-eyed expression.

"What happened?" she insisted and grew even more uneasy at the absence of her friend, "Giles, where is Xander?"

He hesitated, but continued, "T-t-there wasn't anything I could do, Buffy, he rendered me unconscious, and I hate to say this, b-but he's planning to kill Xander."

"K-kill him?" she said softly and then she shook her head furiously, "He is not going to kill him, where is he?"

"You mean he wasn't at the ceremony?" Giles said with a gaped expression.

"Not one sign of him, only Dru and Spike," Buffy replied shaking her head, and she thought aloud, "They have got to be here somewhere!"

"I'd hate to split us up, again, but if we do we have a better chance of finding Xander," suggested Giles and with a deep breath he continued, "alive."

@~~`~~~

Buffy had taken the left wing of the warehouse and it wasn't until 10 minutes after she had begun her search did she begin to hear voices. They were the undoubtedly familiar voices of Angelus and Xander. She followed the sounds of their conversation and when her eyes finally saw them, she hid behind one of the thick columns that supported the warehouse. It was close enough that she could see the, listen to their conversation intently, and wait for the perfect time to attack.

Angelus stood up laughing and said, "Let me see, White Knight, you are willing to tell me anything I want to know, is that right?"

"That's correct," Xander said and he flinched as the rope cut deeper into his skin as he was carefully untying the knots.

Angelus knelt down to look at him in the eye and said, "Why?"

"Well, considering I'm going to die, anyway, might as well prolong my fate," he said in a matter-of-fact tone, "Besides, what do I have to hide?"

The vampire was well aware of the extra presence in the room, and he needed a good line of questioning to reel the slayer in. He pursed his lips thoughtfully and then nodded his head slowly before responding, "All right, what do you *really* feel about Buffy?"

The hidden slayer muffled her gasp and wondered if she really wanted to hear this. She bit her lower lip nervously and thought she had to know, even if this was the way she was going to find out.

"You know how I feel about her, Angelus," Xander replied with a frown, "Why do I have to tell you?"

"Look, you're the prisoner and I'm captor," he said and coldly continued, "Humor me."

Xander took a deep breath and hesitatingly began, "Okay, so you want to know what how I feel about Buffy? I love her, of course, she's one of my best friends."

Her heart skipped a beat when she heard that he loved her, but once the word "best friends" came to her ears, her smile faded. Just when she was about to go on her attack, Angelus began to further his interrogation.

"Oh, you love her," he said, standing up and pacing in front of Xander, "but how do you love her?"

"What do mean, how?" his prisoner replied uncomfortably, and it was then that he saw Buffy in the corner of his eye.

"I mean, do ya love her like my pal 'best friend,' or is it something more than that?" Angelus asked raising his eyebrows, "Now you promised to answer my questions."

Xander didn't know what to say, after all, she was right there, listening to everything. If it had been just him and Angelus, he would have lied through his teeth, but it wasn't just the two of them. She was hearing this...all of this, and he knew that if she couldn't save him from death, he'd want her to know his heart.

He took a deep breath and glanced at Angelus and replied, "I love her, more than just my pal 'best friend' and more than everything in the world."

"Everything?" the vampire replied in a surprised tone, "There are a lot of things in this world, are you sure?"

Xander gave him a long look and he nodded, despite that it hurt his wrists, and stopped gritting his teeth from the pain long enough to say, "Everything.

Angelus approached him and grabbed hold of his head and his human fašade faded into his game face and his sharp teeth were inches away from his neck, "Even your life?"

Buffy shook her head; she didn't have to know this...just yet, "Hey, ugly!"

"Saved my the slayer," he said to Xander and he let go of his head to stand up and talk to his enemy, "That's surprising, Buffy, I always thought, you thought me handsome."

"Well, now I know that vampires have even larger egos than I thought," she replied tartly and she shot her crossbow at him, and it barely missed his heart and entered his left shoulder blade.

"You're getting sloppy," Angelus said flinching slightly as he pulled the bloody arrow out of his shoulder.

"And you don't know how to tie knots very well," Xander said as he stood up, after his he had freed himself from the knots.

"Three against one, Angelus, all with a grudge, can you handle it?" Buffy said as she saw Giles come up behind her.

A smirk befell Angelus' face and contemplated, "We'll get our showdown, Buffy, you can just count on it." With that, the vampire walked out of the nearest exit and once he left, Xander fell back to the floor.

"It was really, two against one," he said as he eyed the cuts on his wrists and gently touched the slowly healing wound on his face.

Buffy and Giles helped Xander up and he replied, "Don't worry, Xander, you'll live, s-so what occurred before I was here?"

Xander and Buffy glanced at each and finally he replied, "Just a little Angelus-style interrogation."

"Oh, what kind of questions?" Giles continued to probe, "Y-you know, just in case an incident such as this occurs again?"

"Trust me, Giles, he won't ask you the same questions he asked Xander," Buffy said as they walked out of the warehouse and noticed that dawn was quickly approaching, and then she cringed and finished, "At least I hope not."