Angel had stopped feeling much of anything after the fiftieth stroke of the whip.
He hung in the chains.
Broken, eyes closed.
Blood dripped from his wrists, along his arms, down his spine, pooling at his feet, soaking what was left of his trousers.
Somewhere in the back of his mind lingered an echo of screams and profanities resounding loudly in the room - Buffy and Spike, unable to remain quiet any longer, pleading in vain with Lisandra to end his torment.
The vampiress had laughed with glee.
Angel clung to consciousness by a thread. He couldn't risk Lisandra tiring of him and turning against his lover or his Childe. But the vampiress had fed from him - the bite marks at his elbows and neck were still seeping blood - and between the blood loss and the pain, he felt dizzy, disoriented. He couldn't take much more abuse and remain aware of his surroundings.
He lifted his head a little, away from the mass of indistinct bruises, burns and lash marks covering his chest. He opened his eyes to small slits.
His vision was blurry, but he made out Spike's shape, crouched a few feet in front of him - the blonde vampire inhaling sharply, trying to keep himself under control. Buffy sat still, her back to the wall. She watched. There were no tears on her face, but he could see them shimmering in her luminous eyes - wide with suffering. For him. Morghane lay curled up in a tight ball in Buffy's lap. Her lids were lowered at half-mast. A dull glow masked the emerald irises, and she shook continuously in the Slayer's embrace.
It didn't look like she would regain consciousness again. The emotional backlash had gotten to be too much for the Guardian to handle. For all intents and purposes, she was gone.
"You still with us, Angel?"
Lisandra teased his slowly healing nipple with the tip of her tongue.
He shivered, but did not answer.
The cat-o'-nine-tails shredded the skin of his back and he jerked a little, away from the scalding pain.
Patient. Relentless. Unforgiving.
"Go to Hell," he rasped.
His voice was no more than a croak. Being tortured for so long did that to a person. Had he been human, his vocal cords would have sustained permanent damage. As it was, he could barely talk.
Lisandra was perfectly aware of the effort it cost him to keep answering her questions.
"I'm getting bored, Angel." She pouted. "Restless." Her nails sliced through the skin of his shoulder. "I thought you would beg, at least a little. I'm telling you honestly, I don't know what to do. I could entertain myself with demon-boy here" - she waved at Spike's stormy expression - "but he might enjoy it. And Morghane..."
She jerked the chain, and the Guardian barely twitched in Buffy's protective hold.
The Slayer snarled.
"Well, let's just say that there's no fun in torturing someone who's not awake to plead. So.... Angel... that only leaves the Slayer."
So his voice wasn't that far gone after all.
"Why don't you just go fuck yourself, you vapid cow!" Spike yelled, jumping on his feet with preternatural speed. He dropped into a fighting stance. "If you touch one hair of her head, I'll tear out your lungs and shove them up your arse, I swear!"
Lisandra ignored the raving vampire, marching up straight to the Slayer.
Buffy didn't even blink. She deposited Morghane gently on the floor and stood, fists clenched at her sides.
"You want me, Barbie Girl? You've got me. Give it your best shot."
Angel stood on wobbly legs, yanking at his bonds, rage and fright drenching the stolen blood in his veins with adrenaline. He could not wrap his mind around the image of Buffy enduring Lisandra's abuse just to steer the vampiress' sick attention away from him.
Which was exactly what Buffy was trying to achieve. It was enough for him to glance at her face. She was the Slayer. Her need to protect - to protect him - was overpowering her. It was more than she could stand.
"Don't do this, Buffy. Lisandra. Lisandra, look at me. I'll do whatever you want. Don't touch her. Lisandra, I'm begging you. Please. Please."
His throat closed up.
There were tears of desperation in his voice now.
Without warning, Lisandra slashed her claws across Buffy's stomach. The Slayer went down on one knee with a shout. But she didn't lower her eyes.
"No!" Angel cried again.
The addictive scent of his mate's blood cloyed at his senses - leaving him in a frenzy.
Spike roared, straining against the restraints, falling on his hands and knees, trying to reach the Slayer. Fury distorted the handsome planes of his face.
"She's a feisty little number, that one," commented Lisandra, bending over Buffy.
She extended a hand to caress the Slayer's left breast through the tight black tank top she wore. Buffy knocked her arm away, reacting on instinct. Lisandra backhanded her wordlessly and Buffy fell backwards against the wall.
Angel's voice was reaching the level of full-blown panic.
The vampiress turned with unnatural swiftness to confront Angel.
"You really care for the Slayer, Angel, don't you? How sweet." She kissed his trembling lips, and he did not dare move. "You said you would do anything. You meant it?"
He gasped. Shattered.
He bowed his head. "A... Anything."
"Angel, no," Buffy implored, raising haunted, shining eyes to him.
Lisandra disregarded the interruption.
"I don't want to torture the Slayer, Angel. It gets tiresome after a while and, anyway, I can play with her later. After I turn her. Tasty morsel. But we still have a little while to go before Morghane here bites the bullet. And I'm bored out of my skull."
He looked at her from under his lashes, panting.
Were was she going with this?
"The First asked me to take special care of you, Angel. Of you and Morghane. But considering that she's already, shall we say, out-of-order... Hm... I do so love to see you in pain, Angel. It's your beauty, I believe. You're so damn beautiful. It's addictive. And I like beautiful things. I enjoy the spectacle of your suffering. I crave it."
He heard Buffy's breath catch on a sob.
Spike looked at him. His Childe's eyes were dead.
Lisandra sounded so much like Angelus - it was frightening. Angel could almost believe that his demon had been reincarnated in her.
"When this is all over, and we bring your better half back, I'll make you my consort. And I'll give Buffy to Spike. But in the meantime... I want to see you on your knees. I want to see the legendary Angelus, taking it up the ass."
Buffy clasped a hand over her mouth, looking like she was going to toss her breakfast. She was as pale as a ghost. And yet still, Angel could feel her struggle to stay strong for him. To appear unmoved, unaffected.
It was getting harder and harder by the minute.
Spike's gaze locked on him. Unwavering.
"I..." Angel lifted his eyes to the ceiling, defeated. Praying for strength - praying - wishing that his God had not forsaken him. Wishing that he had not renounced his God so long ago. "O... okay."
Spike moaned. The sound of a wounded, hunted animal.
Lisandra continued on circling the dark-haired vampire.
"But I am not heartless. Well, I am, but that's beside the point. I can either throw you to my boys, there." She gestured to the four vamps fidgeting by the door, licking their fangs. "They'll thank me profusely later for the treat, I'm sure. They don't get to fuck a master vampire everyday." She stood in front of Spike. "Or, I can offer you to your Childe. After all, I said so earlier, didn't I?"
Spike flinched, startled.
For Angel, it was a bit too much to absorb on top of everything else.
He was lost.
"But I want the Slayer to beg for it." Lisandra giggled. "On her knees."
"You bloody frigid bitch."
Lisandra's eyes narrowed dangerously.
"Don't push me, Spike," she snapped. "I'm granting you a favor, here. I really want to see two superb specimens like the two of you go at it on the floor. I'm sure it will be... distracting. But I'll just as easily chain your Sire down to a rack and let my bodyguards have their way with him. And it won't be a fun ride, trust me on that one." She stared down at the Slayer. "So what do you say, Buffy? The boys? Or Spike? Either way, Angel gets it."
The Slayer's expression hardened. She didn't hesitate.
"Spike," she enunciated clearly.
"I'm sorry. I didn't hear that."
"Spike," repeated Buffy, louder.
"On your knees, Slayer. That was the deal."
Buffy wrapped an arm around her bleeding mid-section and dragged herself to her knees - not tearing her gaze away from Lisandra.
"Let Spike..." - she stammered - "Let Spike..."
She couldn't complete her sentence, at a loss for words.
Her silky blonde tresses fell forward, hiding her face. She angled her head slightly to the left, catching the blonde vampire's cold, deadly eyes.
Spike nodded slowly.
She would never have to plead with him.
Buffy mouthed the words anyway.
< Please. Make love to him for me. >