It Was A Start

 

Author: Laure Alexander

Disclaimer: I don't own any of the characters on Buffy; wish I did. Don't sue!

Word Count: 2605

Rating: R

Warnings: dark fic, mentions of killing

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Summary: Wolfram & Hart ended the world after NFA, yet it keeps going and Angel walks a fine line working for and against them, and then Buffy is captured and he has to save her despite the risk.

 

**

 

Wolfram & Hart ended the world.  Or, at least, civilization as it was known in the beginning of the twenty-first century.

 

After a war lasting barely six months, they conquered every square inch.  Surviving humans were put to work to produce the things demons wanted or bred to birth food.  There were pockets of resistance but they were mostly a nuisance to the pure-bred demons who ruled as well as objects of amusement.  A few had caused some damage but they would be captured and killed soon enough.

 

One such group had sprung up in Los Angeles to stop the first wave of demons.  Most had been slaughtered but a few remained, hiding in the ruins of the city, plotting.  Led by the son of the one who started it all, the vampire, Angel, they did what they could to help those still free.  They were pests, but easily confined to the city limits, and no one really wanted to live at ground zero, even demons.

 

More annoying were the Slayers, several hundred strong and joined by witches and seers and other supernatural but benign creatures.  They were scattered around the world, but their leader was in England and Wolfram & Hart were forced to admit that she was a problem.  Charismatic and powerful and a real pain in their collective asses.

 

One year to the day from their entrance to this world, the senior partners of Wolfram & Hart captured Buffy Summers and dragged her to New York City, their capital.  They were going to execute her publically and horrifically, in the hopes that some of the more violent and, unfortunately, capable resistance cells would surrender or simply stop fighting.

 

Even demons wanted a peaceful existence.

 

So, the execution was set up, the broadcast lines reestablished so that every slave camp, every work site, every remaining demon governed community around the world would see it, and the Slayer was ritualistically prepared.

 

And a debt was called, stopping it all.

 

*****

 

"I want her."

 

"Anyone but her, lord.  You have your pick of the most beautiful human females.  You can have them all, if you wish."

 

Angel turned to glare at the toady the Senior Partners had attending him while he visited the city.  "Make it happen.  They owe me.  Tell them I'm calling in the favor."

 

Slowly the former mayor nodded as he cowered, then shuffled out of the suite at the Ritz.  He was going to his death, but at least the master demons who ruled would make it quick.  The vampire was known to toy with his food.

 

As soon as the fallen human was out of sight, Angel slumped and rubbed his tired eyes.  He'd been awake for nearly three days, waiting for the moment Buffy arrived in New York, waiting to make his move.

 

For a year he'd been playing along with the Senior Partners.  When he'd realized that the invasion was more than just to bring him and his gang down, he and the survivors had made a quick plan.  Sending Connor, Spike and Illyria into the depths of the L.A. subway system, Angel had executed the nearly dead Gunn in full sight of the leader of the demonic invasion.  Gunn has given his permission but his death haunted Angel every day.

 

His original plan had been to bargain for Los Angeles--he had knowledge the Senior Partners would want.  When he'd quickly realized the whole world was at war, he gave over the names of every traitor within Wolfram & Hart--and there were a surprisingly large number--and turned himself in.  Whether or not the Senior Partners believed that he'd been working to bring down the traitors, including his own people, or not, they let him live and forced him to hunt for them.  At first they did it to punish him.  It amused them to have him under their thumb.  Angel suspected they were waiting for him to rebel so they could kill him as a traitor--they liked executing traitors.  He also knew they were wary about the prophecies surrounding him--sometimes if you killed something, it only came back stronger, Illyria being an obvious example and the Senior Partners really didn't want any other Old Gods roaming their Earth.

 

But, he did nothing to arouse their suspicions and after the war ended he was left alone to bring down those in hiding and, while he did that, feeling only a little remorse since they had sided with demons, he set up resistance cells, and linked them to Connor.

 

By the anniversary of the invasion, he had turned over forty-eight humans to be slaughtered and set up nearly a hundred cells, the vast majority of them under the radar, waiting for the word to engage the demons.  Months earlier, the Senior Partners had been impressed enough to grant him anything he wanted outside of leaving the planet or their heads on platters.  He'd put them off, but now, with Buffy's capture, he asked for one thing.

 

His soul was so dark now, but she was his eternal light.

 

He couldn't let her die.

 

*****

 

The negotiations began within the hour and lasted over a day.  He was truly exhausted by the time the Senior Partners conceded--with the brutal warning that this was the only boon they would grant him and he would work for them for the rest of eternity.  If Buffy caused any trouble, they both would die, prophecies be damned.

 

Slumped on a couch watching the sun set, he waited.

 

She was brought to him in chains, surrounded by a dozen minor demons, but her head was held high and her eyes were bright with anger.  She was dirty and bruised and so incredibly beautiful.  When she saw him, her eyes narrowed, the anger turning to outright hatred.

 

Angel sighed softly in resignation.  So, she knew one side...

 

The demons retreated, one of them tossing him the key to her shackles, and Angel pushed his tired body to his feet.

 

As soon as the door closed, Buffy charged, somehow still managing to move incredibly fast despite the ankle restraints.  Angel caught her but not before she punched him in the jaw.  He shook, it off and listened to her ranting at him.

 

"Traitor, bastard, how could you, you son of a bitch, we trusted you, we believed you, you turned on us all, I hate you."

 

Picking her up and slinging her over his shoulder, Angel carted her kicking and screaming into the bedroom and dumped her on the bed.  As she twisted and tried to bite him, he unfastened her chains and threw them into a corner of the room, then put one hand between her breasts and shoved her down hard.

 

"Yeah, I'm all of that, and I just saved your life."

 

"Didn't ask you too," she yelled as she clawed at his hand and kicked up, trying to wrap her legs around him.

 

Crouched over her, Angel leered down at her.  "You're mine now.  Fight it all you want.  I like how it makes you all...glistening and heaving."

 

Buffy's eyes widened and she jerked back, scrambling from beneath him as he sat back on his heels.  "Don't touch me!"

 

The suite was bugged, both microphones and cameras, and removing them was too risky.  They were being watched so he couldn't say anything, couldn't even write a note to explain.  For one night they were trapped here.  Tomorrow he could get her out of her, back to his base in San Francisco.  He could explain.

 

Until then, he'd have to put up with her fury and hatred.

 

Rising to his feet, he ran a hand through his hair and then stripped off his shirt.  He was worn down and only wanted sleep, but he didn't dare leave the Slayer alone with his unconscious body.  Even chaining her back down was too risky.  She was just too damn strong.

 

When Buffy scrambled off the other side of the bed, shaking her head, hands held out in protest, he sighed again.  "I'm not touching you.  Not here.  I'm tired and I'm going to shower.  There's no escape, not even out the window to your death--unbreakable glass and too many damn wards.  Get some rest.  We leave for California in the morning."

 

As he headed for the bathroom, he heard he whisper, "Did you lose your soul?" and he shook his head.  The last thing he heard behind him before he closed the bathroom door was a broken sob.

 

Being soulless would have made this so much easier.

 

*****

 

When he returned from the bathroom, damp and wearing only black sleep pants, Buffy was curled in a window seat, staring into the night.  New York City was pretty much intact and many storeys below the streets teemed with both demonic and human night life.  Every city had collaborators, those humans who wanted to survive as more than slaves and who had the power to offer the demons an easier way than mass slaughter.  Wolfram & Hart had always had uses for humans.

 

She didn't turn her gaze to him, but said softly, "We're never going to win.  I've tried to keep everyone's spirits up, rally the troops and everything, but it's hopeless.  Either we survive like rats in hiding or like those humans down there, pretending the world hasn't ended, or we die."

 

"Yeah."

 

"I'd rather die."

 

He snorted softly.  "It's not the escape you think it is."

 

"I've been to Heaven," she retorted, glaring over her shoulder.  "It's better.  It's just peace."

 

"Well, tough for you because you're not dying anytime soon."

 

"I don't love you anymore.  I despise you," she hissed.

 

"Well, then my love will be unrequited," he snapped back, then left the bedroom.  "Don't come out until I come get you in the morning or you won't like the consequences."

 

He ignored her petulant mutter of, "I already don't like them," and slammed the door shut, then slumped back on the couch, reaching for the remote to find something mindless to keep him awake.  L.A. was destroyed, but filming of moronic television shows continued elsewhere.  And there were always the demonic game shows where humans were prizes or contestants where life and death really meant something.  Reality shows never died.

 

*****

 

The buzzing of the intercom brought Angel out of a light doze.  Quickly ascertaining that the bedroom door was still closed and Buffy wasn't lurking in any corner ready to attack, he answered his wake-up call, then rose and stretched his stiff limbs.  A car was ready to take them to his private jet.  Wondering how much stink she'd put up, he quietly opened the door and slipped inside.

 

Buffy was on the bed, but awake, still clothed, though she'd cleaned up.  On his entry, she sat up and watched him warily as he pulled clothes out of his unpacked bag and dressed in front of her.  He did notice she looked away as he stripped to the skin.  He also noticed a blush formed on her pale cheeks.

 

"We're leaving.  Do I need to chain you again?"

 

She didn't even think about it, just rose and held out her hands, fists touching.  "Yep."

 

Rolling his eyes, Angel replaced her shackles, then closed up his suitcase and summoned a valet.

 

Buffy didn't cause a fuss and never once dropped her chin or her stubborn eyes as he ushered her through the lobby to the stares and whispers of the staff and guests.  Once they were in the car with necro-tempered glass windows, Angel poured her a glass of orange juice and himself a glass of blood.  He watched her sip it slowly, testing if it was drugged, and sipped his own drink.

 

Neither spoke on the trip to the airport.  The driver was one of theirs.  His pilot and co-pilot were his people.  He could speak to her on the plane.

 

He just hoped she'd listen.

They pulled into a hanger holding a Lear jet and Buffy allowed Angel to help her from the car and onto the plane.  He knew she was biding her time, her eyes taking in everything, looking for any escape.  When the plane's door shut and the pilot announced they had clearance for take-off, he unlocked her shackles and sat across from her.

 

"You should buckle in," he suggested as he affixed the strap over his lap and nodded at her own.

 

"So, what would your pilot do if I killed you at thirty thousand feet?"

 

He couldn't help it, an impressed smirk twisted his lips.  "Take you to Spike."

 

Buffy's eyes widened in shock.  "He's...he's...?"

 

"Alive and annoying and in command of the second L.A. resistance cell."

 

She was stunned and he reached over and hooked her seat belt for her.  "But...Okay, I'm confused."  Crossing her arms over her chest, she glared at him.  "What's going on?"

 

"I won't lie to you.  I've done some horrible things to get into the position I'm in.  I did them to survive and try to undermine the Senior Partners any way I could.  In doing so I earned a favor from them.  I was going to use it if my son was ever captured, but I used that favor for you instead."

 

"I've seen you on film, standing there, unfeeling as they put humans to death," she whispered, and he could hear her heart racing.

 

"Yes," was his soft reply.  "Horrible things, but as I brought in spies and ruled California with an iron hand, I formed resistance cells and funneled supplies to them, even to your council, though they never knew the source."

 

"Why didn't you tell me last night?"

 

"Bugs and cameras.  This plane is mine, the pilots mine.  You're safe now."

 

Angel wasn't surprised when she broke down, crying softly into her hands.  When they reached altitude, he fetched a wet cloth, and a basket of fruit and sweet rolls.  Sitting next to her, he waited for her to calm, then gently washed her face and offered her the food.  He also wasn't surprised she ate nearly everything.  She probably hadn't been fed since her capture.

 

Finally, she turned brave, reddened eyes on him and sniffled.  "So, what happens now?"

 

Gently he cupped her chin, his thumb stroking a crumb from her lips, and he heard her slight gasp.  "We pretend.  My people are mine, but there are always eyes on me in public.  In my home we can be whatever we want.  In public, you're my broken slave."

 

"Let me go," she begged.  "Let me go so I can continue to fight."

 

"Your fight's over, Buffy," he replied with sorrow staining his voice.  "I'm sorry.  You can help me with the resistance in other ways, but you can't leave and you can't pick up a weapon."

 

"I'm the Slayer, that's what I do."

 

"Time to retire."

 

She jerked away from him and curled into her seat.  "Leave me alone."

 

Sighing, Angel returned to the seat across from her and watched her brood as he did the same.  He knew the moment she fell asleep, and he moved to the couch, putting his feet up on an ottoman and letting himself go into darkness as well.

 

His last thought was that Buffy would adjust.  She was strong and would see that this was the only option she had to stay alive.

 

He just wondered if she'd ever love him again.

 

*****

 

When Angel awoke he found Buffy curled on the couch next to him, her head on his lap.  There were fresh tear streaks dried on her cheeks but she had come to him.

 

It was a start.

 

End