Gethsemane II - Persequi Cuius Rector
Disclaimer: I don't own anything, they belong to Joss & Co. Callas is mine
though, and so are the terrorists.
Author's Notes: Due to popular request here's the second part to my series. I've got a couple of chapters planned out, so just hope this all turns out as great as it sounds in my head.
She woke up with a headache the size of Grand Central, if it had still been in existence anyway. Trying not to groan too loudly the girl brought a shaky hand to her forehead and felt the heat radiate off her skin. She sat up, fighting herself out of a web of thick blankets and body parts, then glanced around the cell.
It was dark, probably somewhere near midnight and the other slaves were sleeping soundly. For some odd reason she was wrapped in blankets and had also been lying on blankets before. She knew for sure that they'd owned one single blanket together just the night before, but she couldn't remember where'd these had come from. Or what had happened before she'd fallen asleep. She just knew that her body hurt like she'd gone three rounds with an army and lost. Something was lurking at the back of her mind that wouldn't quite come forward, the answer to what had happened to her and why she was in this cell.
Taking a deep breath that made her feel kind of dizzy she reached out and shook the smaller person sleeping to her side. It took a few seconds before the other girl even as much as groaned, but as soon as she opened her eyes she was sitting up as well with a worried look on her face.
"Faith babe, what's wrong? You can't sleep?" she asked softly, not wanting to alert the guards, and reached out to brush the brunette girl's hair out of her face.
"I uh…I don't know? Buffy what happened to me?" she asked in a whisper, her voice breaking as she spoke.
Sighing the blonde slayer looked away. Sometimes after extreme torture sessions the younger girl would wake up in the middle of the night and have forgotten everything, including the torture and why they were here. At the beginning Buffy had refused to tell the brunette about the torture, figuring that it was better for Faith if she didn't remember. But the other slayer had begged and pleaded and made Buffy realize there was no way around it.
"Do you remember the torture sessions?" Buffy started softly and continued as Faith nodded reluctantly, "Callas tortured you for almost an hour, you were barely conscious when we got back. I guess he realized he went a little overboard and had us brought some blankets and food."
Faith nodded, she was remembering at least the general idea.
"Are you okay?" the brunette asked quietly and slid her hand into Buffy's, squeezing it gently before looking into hazel eyes.
The older slayer smiled sadly and nodded, reaching out to cup Faith's cheek in her hand, "Yeah, I'm okay. As long as you are."
They both smiled at each other and Buffy wished they could stay like this forever. Maybe in a different place, but just like this, looking into each other's eyes, with no walls or barred windows.
"Wanna go back to sleep?" Buffy asked, feeling a yawn coming on and knowing they'd both be expected to work tomorrow. She knew she could do it, but she was still worried about Faith. The younger girl felt kind of hot, her skin clammy and pale.
"Wait," the brunette held her back and looked at her pleadingly, "I wanna know what he did."
"Faith…" Buffy tried softly but the slayer's look was stern, she didn't want to do this.
With a sigh the blonde nodded and scooted closer to Faith. Wrapping both her arms protectively around the slim frame of the other slayer from behind, she leaned her chin on a warm, but bony shoulder.
"Well, Callas he…he was in a pretty bad mood I think. And I pissed him off even more, I'm so sorry Faith. He…he started by cutting your abdomen and uh…he jammed the knife between your ribs," Buffy's voice was soft and gentle, but she had to stop herself from shaking by holding onto Faith.
Soft fingers trailed across the injuries mentioned, lingering there for a second as if burning them away just by touch and Faith turned to look at the older girl. Pressing a cold finger against soft lips she gave a small smile and pulled Buffy with her as she lay down.
Their arms never left the other's body as they both drifted back to sleep, all pain and all worries momentarily forgotten.
"They must be crazy!" he hissed between clenched teeth and threw the crumpled ball of paper against the wall.
A demon guard winced at the outburst and looked to his feet. Guard duty inside the castle had become the job no one wanted to take, ever since news about Callas's bad mood had reached the ears of the common people. Callas was generally feared, but his citizens believed him to be a decent ruler for the most part. He had re-built the cities, commerce was good and there was enough food for everybody. But now everybody'd found out about his latest excursion into the land of cruelty; guards told merchants on the market of the latest torture session and the merchants relented the information to the female chatterboxes that shopped at their stands. It was being said that at least one of the two slayers was well near death and if she died a new slayer would be called that could endanger everyone's existence.
And if public fear of the slayers hadn't been enough, now these terrorists were threatening the city and its ruler. Callas had ignored the first request of 50 slaves to be freed and handed over to the terrorists, now they were threatening the city. The ruler was furious, no one knew when and where to expect the attack that seemed imminent.
"Freedom Fighters, what are they thinking? I don't have time for this. I've got complaints coming in left and right about how I should make sure the slayers stay alive."
"Yes, your majesty. Those terrorists should be taken down and beaten publicly," the guard agreed humbly and watched from the corner of his eyes as Callas walked over to him slowly, his face grave and an evil glee in his eyes.
"I agree, they should have been taken down when the first threat came in! Now get your sorry ass out there and tell your supervisor Vannir that I want the slaves working, RIGHT NOW!"
Wincing again the demon slipped out through the doors, leaving a cursing and complaining Ruler behind.
The shackles were biting into her flesh painfully, but somehow she just couldn't get herself to care. The sun was biting down relentlessly on the marketplace that stretched far out in the middle of the city, right next to the castle. The sand underneath her bare feet was hot, but she didn't make a sound as the guards forced her forward, slow steps as if they wanted to prolong the torture of standing on hot sand.
Buffy bent her head, like all slaves were supposed to do when in presence of someone other than a slave, and shuffled her feet forward slowly. It reminded her of inmates in a bad prison movie she had seen years ago. Speaking was strictly forbidden and as hard as it was, she kept to the rule. The blonde could feel Faith walking next to her, head bent as well, and she just hoped the other girl would be alright after working a brutal day in the sun.
Apparently Callas wanted them to help out the merchants as their work-detail for the day, instead of the harder labor out in the streets. Buffy was thankful for that, she knew there was no way Faith would've survived working their usual day of physical labor.
They were stopped abruptly by the guards and both looked up, blinking at the blinding sun that had ascended well into the sky. Colorful booths were lined up along the marketplace at least a hundred feet out, and the common folk was busily buying groceries and exchanging gossip. The merchants were primarily demons, a very colorful array of skins, horns and tails, but some vampires had managed to get their own booths. For some odd reason vampires had been able to walk in the sun ever since the Day of the New Era; some said that the sun shining now was the one that had actually been present in hell.
The guard's hands were tight on her shoulders as he kept her from walking into the marketplace. Right now they were standing right before the first booth, and for some reason the guards were surveying the area as if looking for something. There had been rumors under the slaves that the Freedom Fighters, who had been believed to be nothing but a myth, were planning an attack to free more slaves. Many slaves that had vanished supposedly had been freed by those freedom fighters and were now active members of their cause. But Buffy knew better than to believe in fairy tales; she owed Faith and herself that much. While the other slaves kept each other going by telling stories of someone's escape or how they'd overthrow Callas one day, Buffy kept herself and Faith alive by telling the younger girl stories of the Old Era. Happy times she'd spent with her family, her friends. And even though it hurt to be reminded that all her old friends and family were dead, it also helped them heal. And reality was always much better than make-belief.
Sunken deep in her thoughts, Buffy didn't see what was happening until the hot fire clouds were coming towards her. A loud roar filled the air, accompanied by screams of pain and fear. Screams that soon were drowned out by the blasts of fire shooting into the air and towards them, the heat so intense the blonde thought her face was on fire. Metal scraps were whizzing through the air at high speed, hitting fleeing people's heads, bodies, severing body parts. The shockwave came a second later and it felt as if a giant, invisible beast had lifted her off her feet and thrown her into the air. It had taken Buffy this long to register what was going on, and instinctively she reached for Faith. But where the brunette had been just seconds before she found nothing. Turning her head as she was falling, pushed over from the shockwave, Buffy felt a heavy body slam against hers and bring her to the ground, knocking all air out of her body.
The sweaty, heavy body of a demon on top of hers was the last thing she felt before everything went black.
The air quieted after a few minutes of the deafening roar. He groaned and pulled himself off the ground, looking around quickly for the perpetrators. Callas had warned them that those terrorists might try something, but none of them would've guessed a bomb-attack on the marketplace.
Smoke was curling in the air, the smell of burning wood and flesh filling his nostrils and Vannir had to hold back hard not to throw up. If the smell alone hadn't been bad enough, the sight that greeted him as the smoke cleared definitely was. Demons of all sizes were lying on the ground, blood pouring from shrapnel induced wounds, some missing body parts, others missing whole faces, left with black, gaping holes in their heads that were still on fire.
Quickly remembering the slayer he was supposed to protect from a possible attack he turned around and looked at the ground. The brunette girl was lying in the sand, a large wood piling covering part of her torso, her eyes closed. He couldn't make out any injuries from his position, so he kneeled next to the girl, pushing away the wood and brushed the dust off her face and eyes. It was then that the screams and moans started filling the air, conquering the deafening silence of just seconds before. But he ignored the pleas for help and instead leaned down towards his charge.
The girl opened her eyes, blinking slowly as if in a daze and Vannir sighed in relief. At least she was alive. Dust and sand covered every inch of her body and he really didn't know if the blood on her skin was hers or someone else's. Checking her upper body for any wounds he found none and looked at her face as he moved on to her lower body.
"Can you hear me?" he yelled; there was a distinct ringing in his ears from the loud blast, but the girl nodded despite her possible inability to hear.
"Are you hurt?"
The girl looked at him with big eyes before chuckling, and Vannir realized how stupid his question had been. Of course she was hurt, Callas had made sure of that last night. Normally he would've been supposed to whip a slave that laughed at a guard, but he really couldn't bring himself to hurt this girl any more.
"Sorry, sir. I don't feel any unusual pain, sir," she answered quietly, her voice rough and dry from the dust.
He nodded slowly and avoided her eyes as he looked at her right leg. Giving her a small smile he pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and covered up the large piece of shrapnel embedded deep in her thigh. There was no need to let her know just yet.
Remembering the other slayer he glanced to his left side and saw his demon colleague moving off the listless body of the blonde girl. Cursing under his breath Vannir immediately felt for a pulse on the slender body and sighed in relief as he felt it steady under his fingers. She'd probably only been knocked out, nothing to worry about. Callas would be raging about the terrorist attack, but at least Vannir could report to him that the slayers had survived the attack.
The first medical help was arriving on scene and he sent a young guard that had been standing close by to inform Callas of the slayers' survival and ask about what to do with them. Collapsing onto the sand himself, Vannir realized for the first time what had really happened and how close to dying they had all come. Sucking in his breath he cursed the day he had accepted this job.
"NNNOOOOO! DON'T TELL ME THIS FUCKING CRAP!"
The young guard winced and hoped he wouldn't be hit. He'd never actually met the Ruler face-to-face, and although it was a great honor, he wished he hadn't been the one to report the news. Of course Callas hadn't missed the huge blast and shockwave, but he apparently hadn't expected a disaster of this size. The whole marketplace had practically been blasted to pieces, and half the city's population along with it.
"Majesty, sir, I am also to tell you that the slayers are alive," he tried it with the better news and apparently it seemed to work. Callas calmed down at least a notch and walked over to face him.
"Is Vannir hurt?"
"Good. Tell him to bring the slayers to the prep-room."
The guard's eyes must've just about popped out of their sockets for Callas actually grinned and shook his head. He wasn't even anywhere near being in the mood to torture the slayers now.
"I don't think they will be safe in the dungeons. The terrorists might attack and try to free the slaves; I can spare some useless slaves but not the slayers. I want them to stay in the prep-room for now, until further notice. Understood?!"
Saluting, the demon guard took off to report to his superior and Callas clenched his fists.
Those terrorists were going to pay.
She woke up with a groan and lifted a heavy hand to her head. The last thing she remembered was standing outside the marketplace…before all that fire and metal crap came flying through the air at them.
Buffy sat up straight in bed and groaned again. Her head hurt like what must've been hell. Looking around quickly she realized she was lying in the big bed of the prep-room and her heart stopped in fear. Callas wouldn't really be doing this, she tried to tell herself. But she was even more afraid when she didn't find Faith next to her in bed. It made her panic, she hadn't been farther than 6 feet away from the brunette for two years, she wasn't going to start now.
"Faith?" the blonde croaked, swinging her legs over the side of the bed as she looked around the empty room. It looked like always, the clean carpets and walls, nothing that could possibly be used as a weapon. Looking down at herself Buffy realized that she'd been showered and dressed in clean, comfortable clothes. Although her head hurt a little she generally felt fine.
"Faith?" she tried again, this time her voice cooperating a little bit better. Taking a few cautious steps around the room, the blonde saw that she really was the only person in here. Thinking back to the attack at the marketplace it made her heart constrict tightly in fear. What if Faith was dead? What if she'd been hit by some gone-crazy metal slicing off her head?
Feeling tears sting her eyes Buffy told herself to get her act together. She really didn't know what had happened, but not once in two years had Faith been away from her. Buffy wasn't sure whether she could keep telling herself everything was alright, when the sliding door in the wall opened and two guards stepped inside.
"Where is she? Where's Faith?" Buffy yelled, knowing she might get whipped for speaking to the guards without being asked, but she really didn't care.
"Hush now little girl. Your friend is alright. The Ruler has ordered for you both to remain here until further notice as a safety precaution. Food will be brought to you in a couple of hours," the head guard spoke and stepped to the side as another guard walked through the door with an unconscious body in his arms.
"Faith," Buffy whispered, hoping the guard hadn't lied and the girl really was okay.
The guard dropped Faith on the bed and stepped back towards his colleague. Turning around before they left the demon spoke again while looking at Buffy, "She was hit by some shrapnel in the leg. The medical staff has removed it and closed the wound, but a doctor will stop by before you get your food to check her out."
The door slid shut behind them before Buffy could say another word and in an instant she was on the bed beside the brunette. Faith seemed to be asleep, a peaceful look on her face and the blonde sighed in relief. She had never felt such fear before in her life as in the moment she thought she'd lost the younger girl. Lying down next to the warm body the slayer realized that both of them had been showered and dressed, and she wrapped her arms gently around a slim waist.
Pulling Faith's body closer to hers Buffy hoped that their slayer connection would once again allow them to meet in a better, if fake world. Especially since she had to show Faith something.
Her eyes snapped open immediately and she wasted no time in assessing her situation. Recognizing the light, wooden furniture of the room, the few pictures of herself and other people hanging on the walls, some dirty clothes scattered on the floor, she breathed a sigh of relief. Looking down at the sheets she smiled as she realized they were her favorites and got out of bed, slowly looking around the room again. Already being dressed, the blonde girl skipped the whole morning-routine of taking a shower and lazily putting on clothes and walked right to the closed door.
Reaching slowly for the door handle she braced herself. She wasn't expecting any surprises; she was more afraid of the lack of a person she might find behind the door. Pushing down the handle the blonde stopped short and looked to her left. Narrowing her eyes she studied the wall slowly and tried to figure out what had caught her eyes. Finally her gaze rested on a picture frame that she swore hadn't been there last time. Taking it down and studying it closely she couldn't help but smile. The picture showed her and Faith, the blonde's arms wrapped around the other's body, with Faith laughing at something unbeknown to the viewer.
Putting the picture back on its place on the wall, Buffy pushed open the door to the kitchen/living room and was greeted with the sweet smell of fresh flowers that stood in a vase on the kitchen counter. Walking into the kitchen she found it clean and unused, something that instilled a grain of worry in her. Moving on to the living room the blonde let out the breath she'd unconsciously been holding as she spotted a slim body curled up on the sofa. Faith seemed to be asleep, and Buffy figured that was the case from the steady rain that poured down onto the streets and their roof; something she knew made Faith fall asleep easily.
She sat on the couch next to the girl and studied her closely. The bruises, wounds and broken bones from the real world didn't exist in this place; it was a world fabricated by their memories, dreams and beliefs. Not wanting to wake the peacefully sleeping girl, but knowing Faith would be upset if she'd missed this meeting in their dreams, Buffy leaned down and kissed the dark curls gently. The younger girl had always been a light sleeper, and even as she sat back up Buffy was already staring into soft, brown eyes.
"Hey there," the blonde whispered and smiled brightly, a gesture that brought her a smile in return.
"Buffy," Faith offered and sat up, rubbing her eyes with a yawn, "I thought you weren't gonna make it this time."
Giving the brunette a serious look the older slayer shook her head, "I wouldn't miss this for the world."
They both sat back against the couch, their bodies as close as possible without them practically lying on top of each other, and Buffy reached for the remote. "Well, let's see what's on TV."
Faith gave her a stare that screamed 'B-has-lost-her-mind-completely' and tried to mention the fact that there was NEVER anything on TV, when the blonde had already switched it on. But much to the younger girl's surprise a picture flickered on the screen and the familiar jingle of a morning cartoon filled the room. Faith stared at the screen, watching as a group of little, blue characters with white hats danced across the TV and blinked, turning to face the blonde with an excited glimmer in her eyes.
"The Smurfs! B how…what…how did you do that?"
Smiling at the girl, who was more excited than Buffy had ever seen her, she shrugged her shoulders, "Well, I remembered part of this episode that I watched years ago with Xander and Willow, so I went over every little detail of it in my head. I was hoping it'd work, I just wanted to make you happy."
Faith squealed, at least it sounded like it to Buffy, and the brunette immediately wrapped her arms around the blonde, pressing her lips to Buffy's for a split-second. The brunette stopped any movement and looked at the blonde with fear in her eyes, then pulled back.
"B…I…I'm sorry. I didn't mean…I'm," Faith stuttered, looking anywhere but the blonde's face and Buffy would've laughed at the situation if the brunette hadn't been so afraid of Buffy telling her to get away.
Reaching out with her right hand to touch the younger girl's shoulder, Buffy lifted Faith's chin with her left hand and smiled softly, "Hey…don't worry, nothing happened. Come on, you're gonna miss the show."
Drawing Faith into her arms, Buffy settled against the couch and directed her attention to the smurfs on TV. The brunette was stiff, not letting herself be comforted by Buffy's touch. But after a few minutes of the blonde's hands traveling in soothing rhythms across the brunette's back, Faith let herself relax.
The slayers watched intently as the little, blue smurfs tried to solve some banal problem, and reveled in the warmth of the other's arms.
"Please tell me it's not true that you had something to do with the attack on the marketplace this morning."
The young man stopped in front of the blonde girl and looked at her with big eyes. They both diverted their attention as another guy walked up to them from the long tunnel that led to the main room of the cave.
He looked back at her, then threw a look at the guy next to him and shrugged. They hadn't expected to be reprimanded for trying to free slaves and get back at Callas. True, the attack had been harsher than expected, but in their eyes it was all in the interest of the slaves.
"Well…we might've planted a little bomb and it might've gone off…but it was all to convince Callas that we're not just a bunch of dumb wanna-be terrorists!" he tried to defend himself, but saw it was no use as the blonde threw her hands up and turned to look at the other girl behind her.
"Dave says he did it. Lesley, were you there, too?" she directed the question at the second young man, who nodded slowly, apprehensively.
"We're freedom fighters, not terrorists. We don't kill people, we try to save them. What were you guys thinking?" the second girl came forward, barely holding her anger under control. It was getting hard these days to find people willing to fight for their cause, and although they had freed about a hundred slaves, most of those were too young, too old or too injured to help with work at their camp.
The two girls had been some of the first slaves to escape from Callas's dungeons, and along with the other escapees had formed the camp. Over time, they'd provided a shelter, food and support for escapees and demons that had been kicked out of the city for treason or other such things. The camp was located outside the city limits, deep inside a cave that was protected with magical barriers, so no Army Guard had ever found a single one of them.
"Wait, what'd you just say?" she stopped her thoughts and registered something that guy named Lesley had just said. It was getting harder and harder to deal with the young men that joined them; they were always overenthusiastic and wanted to blast the castle to pieces.
"Well, I was just saying that, when the bomb went off, we were hiding farther away in the bushes, right? So right before it went off, these two slaves were being walked to their work-duty I guess, two guards with them. Nothing unusual, right?" Lesley started and the girl nodded impatiently. She hated when they kept going off on unimportant tangents. Feeling someone take her hand to calm her, she looked up at the blonde and smiled.
"Well, but when the bomb went off, the GUARDS threw themselves at the slaves to protect them, instead of using the slaves to protect themselves. It was as if they were really concerned whether those two lived."
The blonde girl widened her eyes and looked at her lover; they were both thinking the same thing.
"What'd they look like?" the shorter girl asked with a shaky voice.
"Well, the one closest to me was brunette, she had dark eyes I think. Would've been a major hottie if she hadn't been so skinny and weak. The other was blonde, kinda short, but I couldn't see much of her, cause the guard was already throwing himself at her."
Rubbing a hand across her forehead she shook her head and tried to think a clear thought. This couldn't be, this just couldn't be true. For almost two years now they had…
She looked up at the blonde and nodded, an answer to the unspoken question of whether she was alright. Then, thinking of something, she practically ran through the tunnel to her space in the large cave that housed all their members and searched through her old, withered backpack. Finding what she was looking for she raced back to the tunnel, panting as she handed over the old picture to the two guys.
"Are those the two girls?" she breathed heavily, pointing at the smiling faces of a blonde and a brunette girl, next to a dark-haired guy with a goofy grin and a redhead.
He looked up at her slowly, eyes holding confusion and nodded slowly, "Yeah…but…Will, how do you know them?"
"Ever heard of the slayers?"
"Yeah, that's a fairy tale," he answered, doubt in his voice now.
"No. Those two are the slayers…" she took another deep breath, and turning to the blonde at her side continued, "Tara, they're alive."
...continued in Gethsemane III - The Evil that Men Do Lives After Them...