Gethsemane VI - Memento Mori
Disclaimer: I don't own anyone you recognize from the show. Everyone else is
Author's Notes: The pain just won't stop, I know. I'm kind of in a dark mood, so this might be overly sad. Sorry, just can't help these moods my muse puts me in! And uh, the title's from an X-Files episode, but it just fit perfectly.
"Buffy, that's insane. You can't do that!" Willow tried reasoning with her friend, but her voice had risen to higher levels by now. She just couldn't believe the blonde would do something so stupid, or even think about doing it.
The slayer stopped and turned to look at her friend, "Will, I have to do this. I promised her I'd get her out of there, I can't just break that promise."
Seemingly considering the redhead looked into the eyes of her best friend. She wasn't surprised at what she saw there, but it still didn't ease the fear that held her heart in a chokehold. She'd just gotten Buffy back, she didn't want to lose her again. But Willow knew that there was no possibility of her talking the blonde out of this.
She sighed and brought a hand to her forehead, "Do you love her Buffy?"
The blonde gave her a confused look, her arms dropping to her side almost as if she had been defeated and shook her head, "Will…I…I."
Smiling, the redhead took a step forward and placed her hand on Buffy's arm, "It's okay Buffy, I know. And I know you have to go to her. But please let me help, I couldn't deal with losing you again."
Buffy smiled back, seeming relieved and nodded. She was going to need all the help she could get if she wanted to free Faith from the castle.
He walked around the table slowly, his finger running along the dark wood as if he were really interested in the furniture. Lifting his head to meet the Ruler's eyes he smirked, knowing full well that there was no threat. Callas needed him, and no matter how much time he took, the vampire wouldn't do anything rash.
"So," he started, having no intentions on relaying any information just yet, "I heard the brunette slayer is back in the dungeons. Are you sure that's a wise idea?"
Callas brought his hands behind his head and leaned back as far as possible; apparently he was one for playing games, too. "Why don't you let me decide what's wise and what's not, Lukas?"
He nodded, "Fair enough."
The Ruler stood up and walked around the table to pick up the newspaper a guard had brought earlier, with news from yesterday's rescue mission. He scoffed quietly and turned to face the man in front of him with a stern look.
"The blonde slayer knew the castle and location of the brunette; I have no doubt she is going to try something. I decided it would be safer to place the remaining slayer back into the dungeons, a different wing and cell. She's chained down, so no worry of her trying to kill herself either," Callas explained and walked over to the spy, "I want my slayer back, Lukas."
The man took his hand from the table, not acknowledging he had heard Callas at all, and turned to the Ruler with his hands in his pockets. He had pretty much already known all of that, after all he had been around the blonde slayer for almost a day now and she was still not very fond of him. Not that he could blame her.
"The blonde slayer is a wreck, a ticking time-bomb so to speak. I told them that when I was trying to rescue the brunette some guards attacked me and while I was fighting they took the girl from my care. She seemed to believe me, but I am sure that if she knew I was half demon I would be dead by now."
He grinned and watched as Callas nodded, apparently deep in thought. Lukas wasn't stupid enough to reveal all he knew at once, it wasn't profitable for the vampire to get rid off him just yet. And by the time Callas planned to do so he'd be long gone, with his payment of course.
"The Slayer is planning another rescue mission. She's got some powerful witches on her side, a couple of good fighters. They are probably going to try to storm the castle, but this time stealth is the keyword," he gave the Ruler some more information to process, and the dark-haired vampire walked back over to his seat, standing in front of it.
"I must say I had pegged the Slayer to be more intelligent. Doesn't she anticipate us intercepting and killing them all?" Callas seemed intrigued that someone could be this masochistic and sat on the armrest of his chair, arms folded.
"Well as I said, she has powerful witches on her side. They are also responsible for your Army's inability to find their headquarters. There is a strong magical shield surrounding the cave; I have yet to find a spell to reverse the effect, but I am very close."
Callas nodded, scratching his chin as if he was trying to figure something out, then stood up and looked at the spy, "Very well. I will prepare the Army for the imminent attack from the Slayer. I want either you or Flavius going along on their mission, if anything should go wrong I need you to make sure those Slayers don't leave. If you have to reveal your identity to stop them, so be it. And get that reverse spell to my Head Magic Magistrate as quickly as possible."
Lukas nodded and left through the double doors a guard was holding open for him. He hoped the Slayer would plan her attack soon; he wasn't exactly fond of working with the Ruler. Sighing, he made his way back to the Freedom Fighters' cave.
Faith tried to open her eyes slowly, she didn't know if they were swollen shut from all the tears or the torture Callas had inflicted upon her shortly after the fight at the marketplace. She groaned, her muscles protesting at every movement she made. Pulling her wrists the brunette realized she'd been chained to the wall, in a position that didn't allow her much leeway.
"Buffy?" she whispered, finally getting her eyes to open and looked around.
Faith panicked for a split second, before she remembered that Buffy had escaped and she was all alone. Groaning again the girl moved against the wall to release the uncomfortable pressure on her arms from them being chained above her head. Closing her eyes the girl leaned her head against her arms and took a deep breath. Not that she really remembered, but the pain seemed worse than it ever had before. She wasn't sure whether it was because Callas had had a couple of guards beat on her for over half an hour, or whether she was hurting more cause Buffy wasn't there. The blonde had always been there to comfort her after she'd been hurt, every single time for two years and now she was gone.
Trying to force the thoughts about Buffy out of her head, the younger slayer reminded herself that the blonde had promised to free her. But no matter how much she wanted to believe the older girl, she really didn't want to get her hopes up. Life was now officially not worth living.
Only a few seconds later the brunette's body was shook by quiet sobs.
"How are we gonna get into the castle?" Jabe asked and checked the sword in his hand.
The blonde picked up a dagger, her back to him and without turning she replied, "We don't."
Willow looked at the man and shrugged, she didn't have any idea what her friend was talking about either. Finally Buffy turned around, stowing the weapons in the belt around in her waist and she looked at the two confused people standing in front of her. She was scared, more than she'd ever been in her life, but her voice didn't show it as she explained.
"She's not in the castle anymore. Callas had her brought to the dungeons so I wouldn't know where she was."
"Right…umm and you know this how?" Jabe said with his eyebrows raised; his tone of voice holding that he didn't quite believe in her sanity.
"She told me," Buffy shrugged and walked past her best friend to pick up the jacket they'd provided her with.
"Is it just me or does that not seem very possible," the young man tried again, but as he looked at Willow he saw her smile.
Bringing a hand to rest on his shoulder the redhead shook her head, "Just trust her on this, it's a long story and we don't have much time."
Groaning, he rubbed a hand across his eyes and shook his head; he just wasn't quite getting all this complicated magic and Slayer stuff. All he knew how to do was fight, and he was glad that they'd at least need his help with that. Willow was gathering spell ingredients, while busily talking to Tara about how and when to do the spell. The Slayer was checking her weapons for the fiftieth time, and if he hadn't been so sure that Slayers were never scared he could've sworn she was nervous. Shaking off the thought he walked up to her and smiled, but the only thing the smile was meant to convey was that he was ready to fight.
She pushed the branches aside and looked at the gray building in front of her, with two oak double-doors that were secured by two guards. Darkness had just settled in and there was no one outside except for them and a couple of guards patrolling the area. The doors led downstairs to the dungeons; they were the only outside entrance/exit.
"Will, how's the spells coming along?" she asked quietly and moved behind the bushes again, looking at her best friend.
"Almost finished. It only lasts for about 15 minutes though, so you guys have to hurry," the redhead answered and looked at her friend sternly. She didn't want to get this wrong, there was too much at stake. Although this time they'd only taken four other fighters with them, along with Buffy, Willow, Tara and another powerful witch, if they lost they'd lose the best resources the Freedom Fighters had. Not to mention their lives.
Buffy nodded and looked at the four men with her. She already knew Jabe was strong and the vampire that had introduced himself as Casca seemed like one of the better fighters; but she didn't know much about the muscular, tall guy named Todd and the smaller man whose name she believed was Flavius. All she relied on was Jabe's word that the two had proven themselves physically in a couple of fights and she couldn't really argue with that.
"So, what's the spell do?" the blonde turned to watch her best friend sprinkle some blue powder over a bowl and mumble a few words in what she figured was Latin.
"It's like a cloak, you'll be invisible to the guards' eyes. But you have to be careful, they can see you as ripples in the air and if you attack them they'll be able to see you. Just make sure you get in, free Faith and leave. Don't try to engage in fights unless absolutely necessary," Willow warned and ground some weird looking herbs into the blue powder mix, looking intently at each one of them in turn.
"Can we see each other, though?" Flavius questioned and tightened the belt where his sword was located.
Tara nodded, watching her girlfriend complete the spell and took the bowl from her, "You should be able to, at least faintly. You guys just make sure no one gets in Buffy's way, alright?"
They all nodded slowly, the anticipation of the upcoming mission sending waves of adrenaline through their bodies. Willow reached into the bowl and blew the mixture onto all four of them until it was gone and whispered another few Latin words. The four warriors looked at each other, feeling no different, but when they saw their companions only as faint shadows they knew it had worked. They were ready to go.
"Good luck you guys," Willow whispered before the five warriors slipped through the bushes and ran towards the doors to kill the guards.
The sword slid through the startled guard like butter, and the demon dropped to the ground with a silent groan caught in his throat. As he looked to his side he saw that Todd had already gotten rid off the other guard and Jabe picked up the keys from the corpse on the ground to unlock the doors. He was relieved that this time there was no rush of guards to surprise them and they slipped through the doors into the barely illuminated corridor.
The doors clicked shut softly behind them and they waited a few seconds to let their eyes adjust some, at least for the humans and non-slayers under them. There were torches high up on the walls that provided little light, but just enough for them to see where they were going. Steps built into the stone lead down at least five feet, and from where they were standing they could see more dark corridor, that was probably guarded at some place or another.
"Buffy, do you know where she is?" he whispered as quietly as possible to the shadow at his side. He had to try and remember to call her by her name after she'd snapped at him earlier about not being named 'Slayer'.
The blonde reached out her hand to stop him from advancing and looked around, "I can sense her, if I'm closer I'll definitely be able to tell. Let's just get into the dungeons and then hopefully we'll be close enough."
He nodded, they really didn't have much of a choice and started walking down the steps. They stayed as close to the walls as possible, if guards came and didn't see them they might just run right into the fighters. Knowing that time was limited they hurried and were soon standing in another dark corridor that seemed to stretch endlessly into the darkness. Jabe had been in here once, a slave like all the others, but that had been almost two years ago and the dungeons weren't exactly imprinted in his mind. As much as he hated relying on others, the two most recently escaped, Buffy and Flavius, would have to lead the way.
"This tunnel leads into a larger cave-type thingy, with around 4 or 5 guards. The cave branches out into three separate corridors that contain the cells. There's usually guards in the cell-corridors, but they are mostly alone," Buffy whispered to them and he nodded subconsciously, taking in the information.
Making their way along the dark tunnel they finally spotted a better illuminated, larger cave. They stopped, scouting out the situation and seeing seven guards either standing near one of the branch-corridors or sitting behind a barred cage that could only be opened from the inside. Jabe cursed, there were more than they'd anticipated, and especially the ones inside the cage could cause trouble. But before he had a chance to reassess the situation with his teammates he saw the Slayer's shadow creeping along the wall towards the cage.
The blonde man cursed again and walked along the other end, towards the first guard in his way, knowing that the other three fighters would sneak up on their own guard. If they could all kill the first five guards at the same time, they might be able to defeat the last two before those even had a chance to realize what was going on. He watched the others get into place and saw the Slayer cut the head off of her guard. Jabe reacted quickly, slicing easily through the demon in front of him and watched as another three guards dropped to the ground. Five down, two to go.
The two guards inside the cage jumped up, confusion on their faces and quickly unlocked the door, only to be ambushed from their sides. They hadn't even seen the Slayer and the vampire waiting there for them. Jabe breathed a sigh of relief and joined up with the others at the joining of the three corridors.
"So, where's the Slayer?" he glanced around at the dead guards and spotted one clutching a gun in its hand, which he claimed quickly.
Buffy threw him a glance that he could see even though she wasn't more than a shadow and he shrugged, "What, I don't know her name after all…Buffy."
Jabe could've sworn he heard her growl, but she shook it off quickly and turned her head to look at all the corridors in turn, "That one. And yes, I'm sure," she added as he opened his mouth to speak.
Nodding, the blonde man checked the gun to make sure it was loaded and followed Casca and Buffy into the third corridor. Todd was walking almost by his side and Flavius had the back in case any more guards were to surprise them from behind. They entered the cell block and although they would've preferred walking off to the side they weren't going to risk that now. There were small cells in both sides of the corridor, the iron bars dusty and starting to rust, the inside of the cells filled with dirt, blood and excrements. Jabe shuddered at the thought of what life he would've faced if he hadn't been able to escape. In most cells there were two slaves, some of them looked deader than the guards he'd just killed. He was actually glad that those pathetic forms of life couldn't see them, all the begging and screaming those slaves would've created definitely would have blown their cover.
He looked into almost every cell, feeling that he was close to getting whiplash from trying to see all cells, although he knew it was pretty much useless. Buffy would notify them if she could sense the other girl nearby and then they could bother with looking. They advanced through the corridor and after a while Jabe gave up looking at the slaves; it was near making him sick. He was so sunken in his thoughts that only the sound of skin and muscles tearing snapped him back into reality. Looking up he saw a guard slowly sinking to the floor, a dagger sticking out of his chest.
Sighing in relief that he hadn't been up front, Jabe walked past the guard and pulled the bloody dagger out of the demon's chest. No need to waste weapons. They had covered almost the whole corridor and there was no sign of the brunette slayer. Jabe was getting worried and even more so as they stopped. Pushing past Casca who had been blocking his view, his eyes fell upon two more corridors branching out from the one they were in. He groaned and turned to Buffy, who was already trying to sense the other girl.
"Where do we go, Buff?"
"She's close by, I can feel it. I think…why don't we try this one?" she whispered back, and Jabe was close to yelling. Now she wasn't even sure anymore.
Holding back his anger he followed the blonde into the corridor to the right, but this time he was paying more attention. Which was definitely a good thing, since as soon as they stepped foot into the dark tunnel two guards practically walked into them. He had just enough time to jump out of the way and hope one of the others behind him would take care of the demon. But Buffy hadn't been as lucky and the dumbfounded guard was looking at the empty spot in front of him that he had run into. Letting his fist snap forward the demon struck something solid, like a body and was shocked at his inability to see this possible attacker. But as the invisible person dropped to the floor he could see ripples in the air and smiled, just as he raised his sword to let it sail down on his enemy.
Jabe didn't give the guard a chance to register the knife buried deep in his chest and pushed him to the side harshly, then cutting off the demon's head with his sword. Helping Buffy up they turned around and saw that the others had taken care of the second guard. Breathing out the breath he hadn't known he was holding he realized they'd been way too lucky tonight. But there was no time to contemplate, according to Willow the invisibility spell wasn't going to last much more than ten minutes now.
And apparently Buffy had been thinking the same thing, for she practically ran along the corridor, now looking into every cell on the way. Jabe followed her quick pace, checking each cell she passed just to make sure. Suddenly the blonde stopped, her hands gripping the iron bars tightly and trying to break through them. The fighter stopped next to her and looked into the dark cell. He was having a hard time actually seeing much beyond the form of a body chained to the wall and he hoped that Buffy was sure about this.
"Open the cell, just open it. Hurry," she breathed and Jabe turned to see Casca catch up with them.
The vampire and the Slayer both grabbed the bars and started shaking them, trying to break them from the wall. But even the combined strength of the two didn't do it and he practically had to push Buffy aside to let him try. Willow had given him a weird smelling powder before they had left the Headquarter and told him that it dissolved iron; he'd thought it dangerous at first because of their swords and other weapons, but now he reminded himself to thank the witch later. Grabbing the pouch from his pocket he threw some of the reddish powder against the bars and with a loud sizzling sound they collapsed.
Buffy was inside the cell and next to the girl before the bars even had a chance to completely dissolve, this time trying to pry the iron chains from the wall. Jabe shook his head at her impatience and stepped through the hole in the bars. He crouched down and finally got a good look at the girl's face. She was definitely the girl from Willow's picture, but he still would have doubted it if Buffy wasn't so sure. The bruises and cuts covering her face almost made her look like a demon with purple-blue skin and he shuddered. Callas probably hadn't gone easy on her last night. He sprinkled some of the powder over the shackles around her wrists and hoped that it really only dissolved iron.
But the brunette's hands collapsed down to her sides unharmed and within seconds Buffy was trying to wake the girl. Jabe turned to look out the cell, he was getting worried about more guards coming. He was sure that the other three fighters could fight off any guards that were going to come, but he still stood up and walked out of the cell. And in fact there were a few guards, fighting Casca and Todd while Flavius looked back and forth worriedly. Just has he had anticipated the demons had been no problem and the vampire and Todd came back over to them. Flavius still stood farther off, looking like he was more worried than Jabe.
The blonde man turned and saw Buffy coming out of the cell, carrying the brunette's body in her arms. She walked a few steps towards them and looked around nervously as well, "She won't wake up, but she's alive. Callas probably took his anger out on her; we have to get her back to Headquarters fast."
He nodded and followed her as she carried her friend through the corridor, stepping across the bodies of various demons on the ground. Flavius was looking at them, then back into the corridor as if he was actually expecting someone to come; Casca and Todd walked ahead to catch any guards before they could get to Buffy. Jabe followed a few steps behind the Slayer, not knowing whether there was an entrance to the dungeons behind them that the guards could use. He was just about to make a comment about how smooth this all had gone, when a voice rang through the air and made him look up.
"In the name of the great and magnificent Ruler…I order you to stop!"
Jabe stopped, a few steps behind the blonde girl and looked at Flavius angrily, "You're a fucking spy!"
The man laughed and trained a gun on the two slayers. Jabe couldn't believe they had let a spy into their group, had taken him on this mission and enabled him to see them despite their invisibility. He was fumbling for his own gun in his waistband but it was too late; the shot rang through the hallway, echoing off the walls and at least alerting Casca and Todd. Jabe watched as the blonde Slayer dropped to the ground, blood pooling beneath her body and then looked at the spy who had his gun trained on him now. Flavius knew that no matter how fast the blonde man could ever be, with a sword he had no chance and Jabe thanked whoever for the spy not having seen the gun he'd picked up earlier.
He grabbed the gun and pulled the trigger faster than Flavius could realize and the second shot seemed a lot louder. The spy dropped to the ground as well and Jabe hurried over to the fallen body of the blonde. The bullet had pierced through her chest, probably even her heart and he closed his eyes. Todd and Casca came running back over and cursed as well as they saw the two slayers on the floor.
"Shit Jabe…shit! What are we gonna do?" Todd asked, looking around frantically to make sure no guards were coming after them.
"We've got to carry them. Maybe we can still help. Casca, can you fight the guards by yourself?" he stated calmly and looked at his long-time friend.
"Yeah, we just got rid off a few more that probably heard the shots. We gotta hurry, spells wearing almost off and the brunette isn't invisible."
Jabe nodded and lifted the brunette girl into his arms as Todd did the same with the blonde. All they had to do now was get out, but that was definitely easier done than said. So they ran, as best as they could with the girls in their arms, Casca leading the way.
He was gladder than ever for his friend's keen sense of direction and the vampire had them back in the bigger cave within a minute. That was when three guards saw the body of a slave practically floating in midair and came charging at Jabe. The edge of the sword sliced through his jacket easily and he could feel the blood trickle down his arm. This was getting worse and worse.
Crouching down, he lowered the girl onto the ground and rolled away from her body as the guard started stabbing the air. Knowing he only had one shot at this Jabe threw the only knife he still had and it jammed right in between the guard's eyes. Scoffing the blonde fighter crawled back over to the brunette, looked around to see Casca finish the last guard and picked up the girl once again.
Now all they had to do was run.
She opened her eyes slowly and expected to feel her hands chained to the wall, but instead she could move freely. Wondering what Callas was up to she sat up straight, only to be greeted with a very unfamiliar scene. She was lying on a couple of blankets in what looked like a small cave, candles surrounding her as well as a circle of blue powder. Wondering what was going on the girl brought a hand to her head and groaned. She felt dizzy, but besides that the pain in her body wasn't nearly as bad as it had been just yesterday.
Faith pushed herself up and stood for a few seconds with her hand resting against the cold wall to steady herself. She slowly and cautiously exited the small cave, only to walk into something resembling an underground tunnel carved into the stone. Hearing voices coming from her right she continued her way down the tunnel, where she found a large, tall cave with dozens of people mingling around. In the middle there was a large fire, and next to it an empty circle. Most of the cave was covered with blankets and what seemed personal items, some of the spots had people on them and others were left empty at the moment. Off to the sides of the cave were benches carved into the stone, as well as small tables that held various magical supplies. Other corridors led from the cave, but she couldn't tell where to.
The brunette slayer entered the cave, unsure of where she was exactly and looked at the people around her. Some threw her curious looks, a couple of little kids even had the nerve to point at her. She wanted nothing more than to lie down, with Buffy next to her. She snapped her head up, remembering the blonde and panic crept up into her body. If this was what she thought it was, the Freedom Fighters' Headquarter, then Buffy had to be around, unless…Faith shook her head, she wasn't going to think about that.
Wandering around between the people she got more worried by the second. Suddenly a hand came to rest on her shoulder and the brunette spun, ready to strike at anything that dared to touch her. But as she looked at the face in front of her she had to hold back the tears.
"Willow…," she breathed and was immediately enveloped in the witch's arms.
"Faith, I didn't think you'd be awake already. We did some healing spells, to help you get better. How are you feeling?" the redhead asked and looked at the brunette girl. What she saw was a body far from well, but definitely a lot closer to it than she had been last night when Jabe had carried her to one of the small caves they used specifically for healing.
"Fine, better than I've been in a while. Will…," the brunette started and looked around again, then back at the redhead, "Will, where's Buffy?"
Willow looked away, anywhere but those two brown eyes that held so much pain in them. Pain she didn't want to add to. But sometimes actions speak louder than words, and immediately Faith's fingers were digging into her arm almost painfully.
"Willow?" the girl's voice was small now, cracking and the tears pooling in her eyes.
Sighing, the redheaded witch bit her lip and looked up into Faith's eyes, "She…Buffy was shot last night while trying to rescue you."
The brunette's arms dropped to her side and a blank look crossed her eyes, before her chin started quivering. Willow stepped forward but Faith took a step backwards, looking at the wall and sucking in her breath before looking at the redhead again.
"Is she…is…Buffy…dead?" Faith forced the words out, the lump in her throat threatening to choke her and the tears were slowly winding their way down her cheeks.
"Faith…I…," Willow started, feeling her own tears spring to her eyes as the brunette girl sunk to the floor.
Faith started sobbing, heart-wrenching sobs that shook her body as she knelt on the cold, dirty floor. The girl was sucking in breaths, choking on her own tears and Willow could hear her repeating the same thing over and over again.
"Buffy…Buffy you can't leave me…please…"
The redhead swallowed and dropped to her knees as well, wrapping her arms around the younger girl, knowing that nothing she could ever say would take away the pain.
"Both slayers…gone, huh? Do I even have to yell to know how fucking pissed I am?" Callas glared at the two guards before him and cut them off before they could give him any lame excuses.
He looked up as the door opened and Lukas stepped inside the room, his stride showing that he was hurrying, not like him at all. The half-breed stopped in front of the Ruler and nodded at him.
"Flavius failed, I hope you have better news for me. I'd hate to have to waste the time to kill you," Callas declared calmly, knowing he wouldn't even get as much as an angry glare from the spy.
"I have the reverse spell. Give me a day to gather the ingredients and get everything ready. I promise you won't be disappointed this time," Lukas spoke in a serious tone and Callas nodded.
He wasn't in the mood to play games today. All he wanted was revenge on the terrorists. And he was going to get it.
...continued in Gethsemane VII - Do Not Love The World...