"Remember Hell, Angel?"
Lisandra trailed red-painted nails between the vampire's shoulder blades, and Angel shivered.
"Remember the pain, the torment, the solitude? The humiliation?"
Her hand followed the ripple of muscles along his side; he could not help but cringe away from her touch.
"You do realize that you have no one else to blame for those five hundred years of torture but Buffy."
Angel looked down on her with contempt.
Lisandra acknowledged her mistake with a small smile. "I guess Buffy's decision to forfeit your life can be justified by the fact that she was trying to save the world at the time... In fact, if we must try to put the blame somewhere, it should be on your soul. Or maybe on Willow? Had it not been for the little witch, Angelus would have been the one sent to Hell. And he would have enjoyed it too." Her moist little pink tongue emerged to lick her upper lip. "Demons like to mix some pain with their pleasure. Don't you, Angel?"
"Save your breath," the dark-haired vampire growled, grinding his teeth. "You'll never drive me to renounce my soul. It's been tried before."
Lisandra shrugged, undeterred.
"A shame, really. 'Better to reign in Hell, than serve in Heaven', Angel. You're a well-read man. I'm sure Milton has no secrets for you."
"Been there, done that." Angel smirked. "Paradise Lost and the Divine Comedy sort of lose their appeal when you've got first-hand experience of the Fall," he commented conversationally.
The vampiress appeared to ponder his words.
"Really? I've always been partial to Dante Alighieri's vision myself. That Hell was this frozen wasteland. You struggle to feel something. And nothing happens."
"If you want to check it out, don't let us keep you here any longer."
Lisandra slapped him, but it barely registered.
"You know that if the First should fail to bring Angelus back, Hell is where you'll end up, Angel. And you don't want that. Being the sex-slave of a horde of horny demons loses its charms after the first couple of decades. Or so I'm told. " She grinned. "But you know that already."
Angel didn't answer. Those memories were way too close to the surface right now.
Another verse of Paradise Lost was seared into his mind.
'The mind is its own place, and in itself
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.'
He didn't fear Lisandra's torture as much as he dreaded the mind-games - and things were heading that way fast.
He evaded Buffy's gaze. She tried to appear unaffected, but her compassion for him shone through the cracks of her composure.
God, he loved that woman.
Now, for his Childe.
The blonde vampire's irises were ringed with a hard edge of gold. Although Spike still sported his handsome human disguise, Angel caught a flash of fangs between his tightly drawn lips.
Lisandra once again invaded his field of vision, moving around him in circles like a hawk over its prey.
It made him nauseous.
Would she just start torturing him already and get it over with?
"Remember what I just told you about pain and pleasure?"
She cupped him through his pants.
Angel hissed an unneeded breath.
< The bitch. >
"Care for a little experiment? There's still so much of the demon in you, Angel." She moistened her lips again. "Isn't that right, Spike?" she taunted without bothering to turn around.
Had she known Spike better, she would have been able to read the warning signs.
With one hand, Lisandra caressed Angel's stomach right above his belt, fondling him through the material of his trousers with the other.
Angel bit back a panting breath.
No way this bitch was going to make him breathe.
"A little fairy whispered something to me, Spike. She told me that this was your secret trademark. Arouse them first. It only heightens the pain. How did you like going down on him, Spike? Did you miss your Sire that much? Should I let you wrap your mouth around his cock right now? Is his taste still on your tongue?"
She pressed a kiss over Angel's heart.
"What does he taste like, Spike?"
When Lisandra heard the growl, it was already too late.
She didn't see Spike rip the bolt of the chain. Didn't see him charge her with fangs bared.
When she realize something was happening, Spike was already on top of her. Snarling.
Four vampires - Lisandra's personal guard - rushed towards Spike, intent on pulling him off their mistress.
Spike was pounding her head into the ground, blinded by rage.
Buffy pulled on the manacle locked around her ankle but it held strong. She inched closer to Morghane - determined to shield the Guardian with her own body should the situation degenerate.
The four vamps grabbed Spike by the arms and dragged him away from Lisandra. The blonde vampire kept on struggling and clawing.
Lisandra pulled herself to her feet more or less gracefully, looking pissed, and stalked towards the blonde. She closed a fist around his throat and her nails drew blood.
"You'll pay for this, asshole. I'll make you beg. I won't stake you. I'll rip you apart with my bare hands."
"Fuck you, you stupid whore."
Spike froze, looking past Lisandra's vampiric countenance to his Sire. Finally registering that Angel had been calling out to him all along.
"Will," Angel murmured again. His voice had taken on an almost hypnotic quality. "It's okay. You have to calm down. I need you to take care of Buffy and Morghane. Whatever happens, I'll be fine. You have to protect them for me, Childe."
Sanity returned to Spike's glacial blue orbs.
Lisandra laughed out loud, her mood experiencing a complete 180 once again.
"I think I'm going to cry."
Spike's expression dripped with hatred. Without warning, she punched him in the stomach and he doubled over.
"I want him secured. And this time, make sure the chains hold."
The vampires threw Spike to the floor, chaining both his ankles to the ground.
Buffy strained against her own bonds. The tip of her fingers grazed Spike's forearm and the blonde vampire smiled for her.
A small smile, full of agony and self-hatred.
"I'm sorry, Slayer."
Buffy shook her head, looking kindly at him.
"Don't be. You have to trust Angel."
Spike had to turn away from her. He could feel Angel's gaze on him, and his throat tightened. He had a pretty good idea of what Lisandra's next move would be.
His head sank to his chest. He couldn't watch. He just couldn't.
Lisandra sashayed past him. She bent to pick up something. Spike couldn't make out what it was. She clapped her hands and the door opened. A cart was wheeled inside the room and Spike smelled smoke. Embers.
Next to him, Buffy couldn't smother a gasp.
< No. No, please, no. >
He couldn't help but raise his head a little. Lisandra winked at him.
"Variation on the same theme. The hot pokers were a nice touch, but I like branding irons myself."
Spike's gaze was drawn to his Sire's face and he saw Angel tightly shut his eyes, steeling himself against the pain to come.
"Now, this gives me an opportunity to explain the number one rule of your stay here. In other circumstances, I would take a perverse pleasure in punishing Morghane for your little display, Spike. But I can't, because she's so close to death already. Although..."
Lisandra pulled onto the end of the chain she held in her hand. Morghane gasped as her breath caught in her throat, the unforgiving collar digging into the soft flesh of her neck.
"Doesn't mean that I can't have some fun," concluded the vampiress with a giggle.
"No, don't!" Buffy cried out despite herself.
"Spoil sport," whined Lisandra before letting go of the chain.
Morghane collapsed back on the ground, wheezing. Buffy drew the Guardian against her chest, her protective instincts sent into overdrive.
"Anyway," the vampiress continued, strolling nonchalantly towards the brazier full of live coals and branding irons, "you do something like that again, any one of you..." - she chose an iron - "Angel gets punished".
With a wicked grin, she applied the iron to the small of Angel's back.
The vampire howled, straining against his bonds, each corded muscle standing in stark contrast against his pale, glistening skin.
Buffy had to look away, physically unable to watch.
Morghane struggled to her knees and slipped an arm around the Slayer's rigid form. She knew that it would be useless to plead with Lisandra.
Spike sat. Motionless. Transfixed.
"On the other hand, you do nothing... " - Lisandra fingered the burn marring the vampire's perfect skin - "Angel gets punished anyway."
This time, she went for a perk male nipple.
Angel screamed before going limp - quivering.
Which was when Spike's eyes nearly popped out of his head. When he realized that the iron's head was shaped in the form of a cross.
Not big enough so that an old vampire like himself or a powerful one like Lisandra couldn't withstand its sight.
But enough to double Angel's agony.
The smell of burnt flesh rose in the air and Spike wanted to retch.
The Slayer appeared to have stopped breathing altogether.
"So, where were we before I was so rudely interrupted?"
Lisandra abandoned the iron and Buffy almost let go of a relieved sigh. She had to control herself better than this.
"Ah, yes," exclaimed Lisandra, pushing the anarchic mane of blonde hair away from her face. "I wanted to know what Angel tastes like. Any insight, Spike? No? That's all right. To tell you the truth, I can't wait to find out for myself."
Angel's eyes widened a little - overflowing wells of darkness. His gaze locked desperately with Morghane's. It was going to happen, there was nothing he could do to prevent it, and Buffy would be there to watch.
Morghane held Buffy tighter and was surprised to find the Slayer calmly watching her. She felt Buffy's emotions wash over her. The Slayer was determined to support Angel whatever happened next, and the only way she knew how to do that was to not show any emotion at all.
Lisandra's less than sane giggle brought them back to reality.
"Do you mind, Buffy?"
The Slayer glared. "Do I mind you raping my lover? Is that your question?"
"Rape. Tsk, tsk. Now that is such a strong word."
"Not strong enough, if you ask me," replied Buffy, in the same disdainful, sarcastic tone of voice.
"Well, you see, Buffy, that's the funny thing about us, vampires. Rape implies unwillingness, and it just happens that vampires... are always willing."
"I think Angel might have a thing or two to say about that."
"That's the whole point, Buffy. Have you ever stopped to think what being a vampire means? What those heightened senses really entail? We see in the dark, we pick up on the slightest whisper in a crowd, we can single out the scent of one hibiscus in a garden full of roses, and there are no words in the human language to describe the taste of fresh, living blood going down my throat. But people tend to forget about the consequences of an enhanced sense of touch."
Lisandra twisted Angel's wounded nipple, and the vampire writhed in pain, swallowing a shout.
"A light breeze on my skin feels like the caress of a lover. It means that arousal is, to us, almost a natural, constant state of being. It also means that, despite all his willpower, I can make Angel come in my hand."
Next to Buffy, Spike shifted in disgust, and the Slayer understood his discomfort. Realized that the torture was aimed at him as much as it was at herself and Angel. During their last encounter, Spike had used this ability to arouse Angel at will to torture him further.
Buffy felt a flash of anger submerge her, but subdued it quickly.
The vampire chained next to her on the cold ground of the warehouse, shaking at the sight of his Sire defenseless and abused, was not the same vampire who had reveled in Angel's screams of pain a mere couple of weeks ago.
She couldn't let Lisandra's scheme succeed in turning them against each other.
Startled, Buffy found Morghane nodding approvingly at her, and it only strengthened her determination to keep her emotions under control. The Guardian had no psychic shields left to speak of. She wouldn't be able to take the onslaught of anguish Buffy might crumble under if the Slayer let Lisandra get to her.
Meanwhile, the vampiress seemed to have tired of her little speech.
She leaned against Angel, rising on her toes to kiss him. He attempted to escape, but she seized his face between her hands, trying to force her tongue inside his mouth.
He bit her.
She pulled away, laughing, licking the blood off her lips.
"My, my. The lapdog's still got teeth. I will have to discipline you for that, Angel." She snickered. "Later."
She went down on her knees in a smooth flow of gracious limbs. She paused briefly to flick her tongue in his navel and he shuddered.
His eyes were trained on the ceiling, on the ground, even on the branding irons.
Anywhere but on Buffy, Morghane or Spike.
What the Guardian had been through when Angelus had raped her, then when the First had reenacted the whole experience for them to share, was further driven home.
It was less than a whisper, but he couldn't ignore the quiet plea conveyed in that small word.
He looked at Buffy.
The Slayer smiled calmly at him. Her gaze was clear, free of shadows and doubt. Her face was opened to him - and he found nothing but trust. Her beautiful hazel eyes shone with her love for him. She was inviting him in to share her every thoughts.
< I love you. >
< I'm sorry for your pain. >
< None of this matters to us. >
< We'll make new memories together. >
Lisandra undid the buckle of his leather belt and Angel flinched, biting down on his lower lip until he drew blood.
The vampiress pulled his pants and boxers down on his thighs, exposing his flaccid cock.
He expected Lisandra to close her fingers around his length, but she took him by surprise, teasing the sensitive patch of skin between his testicles with the edge of a nail.
He jumped, gasping.
She gloated. "Shh. We're just getting started."
She traced a path with the tip of her tongue, down the line of hair leading to his groin. Her hands gently massaged his balls.
Eventually, her mouth closed around the head of his cock.
He whimpered, pulling on his bonds, trying desperately to get away. But he couldn't escape the vampiress' expert touch. He could already feel himself stirring to life between her lips.
A lone tear rolled down his cheek.
At least, Spike's touch had had the comforting quality of an old lover's embrace.
He heard Buffy silently calling out to him, willing him to look at her - to let her share this with him, take some of the burden onto herself - but it was beyond his strength. He hung his head in disgrace, slumping forward. The metal of the manacles tore the skin of his wrists. At least the pain was a distraction.
Another kind of pain brought him back to the matter at hand. Lisandra was nibbling at his foreskin, her tongue hiking down the delicate underside of his cock, skillfully coaxing him to hardness. One hand lightly squeezed one of his balls, while the other closed in a fist around the base of his member.
His hips bucked forward of their own volition, and he moaned.
He wanted to scream, to plead with his tormentor - to stop, to leave him alone. He was prepared to beg, but he couldn't form a coherent thought. Not one word would pass his lips.
His panic rose, as did his cock.
God, he was breathing. Harshly, laboriously. He was breathing.
And still he could feel Buffy's forgiving, unconditional love.
Guilt and shame never seemed as insurmountable than in that moment. How was he supposed to trust himself around Buffy ever again? How could he ever hope to master the demon, when he wasn't even capable of controlling something as base as an erection?
Stolen blood circulated faster inside his veins, and his skin flushed. Hair on his thighs and forearms stood on end. His arousal was growing, unrestrained, and he groaned.
The sound reverberated inside the confines of the room, expending.
Beating what remained of his self-respect into the ground.
Lisandra smiled wickedly before engulfing all of him inside her mouth. She tightened her grip around his cock, building the tension, keeping him on edge. This time he bit down on his tongue to keep the moan in. To keep from begging for release.
He swelled further down Lisandra's throat. His sack tightened in anticipation.
The vampiress moved up and away from him, swiftly tucking him back inside his pants. The conspicuous hiss of the zipper brought him back from the brink of insanity.
His lips parted in confusion. His pupils were dilated, glazed.
"All this blood rushing inside, Angel. Flowing with arousal." Lisandra patted his cheek, amused. "Now the real fun begins."
Quickly, not allowing him the time to recover, she grabbed a branding iron and went for his inner thigh, burning the flesh through the soft cotton of his pants.
Angel shrieked in misery.
When the iron imprinted its mark on his other nipple, he wished he could die. It felt like Hell, like the First's infernal talons all over again.
Dimly, through the roaring haze of pain, he heard a soft, familiar growl.
< My Childe. >
He made out words.
"I'll kill you for this, bitch."
Then Lisandra's grating laugh, and the sickening sound of a boot hitting ribs.
"Don't worry, Spike. I'll let you fuck him properly when I'm done."