Chapter Five: Captivity
Dawn hung up the phone and just stared at it for a moment, her mind quickly running through what needed to be done. She heard Spike urgently calling her name, but it seemed to be coming from a great distance. When she didn’t respond, he pulled her around to face him. She wanted to tell him about her ‘dream’, but she knew there wasn’t time; she needed to be there now, just in case she wasn’t too late. She put her hand to Spike’s mouth, halting his questions.
“I have to go. I’ll be right back.” She leaned in and quickly kissed him. As she pulled away, Spike grabbed her hands and tugged her closer.
“I’m going with you.” She looked at him for a moment and then nodded. “And you might want to put on some pants.” They rushed back to the bedroom and quickly dressed; seconds later they were in Willow and Tara’s living room. A lamp was lit in the corner, but the rest of the room was dark and empty. A book was open on the coffee table, and papers were scattered all around. Glancing around the room, Spike picked up a couple of the papers. He studied them as he walked to where Dawn was examining the book. She looked up as he handed her the papers, but when she saw what they said her face paled. Their eyes met; Spike’s curious, Dawn’s worried.
“This isn’t good.”
“What is it?” he asked.
“It looks like they were researching the Jhidara, but I don’t know why.” She set them on the book, and then headed towards the back of the house, motioning for Spike to follow. “Come on. We need to figure out where they might have taken them.” When they were about halfway down the hall, something came hurtling out of one of the room and crashed into Dawn knocking her down. She let out a scream, and the thing on top of her screamed too as they both scrambled away from each other.
“Tara?” Spike exclaimed in astonishment. Dawn stopped her frightened backwards crawl and looked at who had knocked her down.
“Spike?” Tara asked in confusion, then tearfully, “Dawn! What are you guys doing here?” She shook her head. “It’s because of Willow, isn’t it? You know.”
“Sort of. Not exactly.” As the tears in Tara’s eyes began to fall, Dawn whispered, “What happened here?” Tara wiped at her face with her sleeve and began to explain,
“Mr. Giles called earlier and asked us to look up some information for him.” She glanced at Dawn. “He’s been trying to call you.”
“Big. He said there’s been a lot of stuff going on over there. He wanted to talk to you about it.” Dawn was confused.
“Why didn’t he leave me a message or something?”
“He said he hasn’t been able to get through.” Dawn exchanged a worried look with Spike and then Tara continued, “We had been researching for a while and we got hungry. Willow went to pick up something for us to eat; she said I should wait here and keep researching.” Her lip trembled slightly. “She wasn’t gone long. I heard the car and went to the window. She blew me a kiss as she pulled a bag out of the car, but then…” her voice faded off.
“What happened?” Spike prodded gently.
“He came out of nowhere, and all of a sudden he was right behind her. I barely had time to react before he injected something into her arm. She passed out, and he started to drag her off. I ran to help her, but when I opened the door and started to go outside someone or something hit me. Hard. It knocked me back into the house, and I hit my head. I saw someone in the door, but everything was all fuzzy. I tried to focus, but I guess I must have blacked out because the next thing I remember is waking up and everyone was gone.” She looked sadly at the floor, and Dawn pulled her into a hug.
“What were you doing back here? Were you afraid they’d come back?”
“No, I was looking for this.” She reached over to pick something up, and Dawn saw that she had dropped a book in the collision. “I think there’s a spell in here that might help find where they’ve taken her. I was just getting ready to try it.”
“If the people who took her are who, and what, I think they are that spell probably isn’t going to work.” She stood up and helped Tara to her feet. “You said Giles asked you to look this stuff up?” Tara nodded. “Okay, I’m going to pay him a quick visit.” She looked at Spike. “Can you stay here with her?” He nodded and she turned back to Tara. “I don’t want to leave you here alone. You can go ahead and try this tracking spell, but please don’t go anywhere until I get back. These guys, the Jhidara, they’re not something you want to try and handle on your own, okay?” Tara nodded and Dawn tried to smile. “We’ll get her back; I promise.”
* * * *
She was awake, but she couldn’t see very well. Everything was blurred around the edges like in a dream. Maybe it was. Maybe it was a nightmare, and pretty soon she’d wake up at home in her own bed and Tara would hold her until the memory faded and… Tara! What had happened to Tara? She tried to focus, to remember, but all she got were random confusing images. She remembered seeing Tara at the window. Had she waved? Maybe. She’d seen Tara’s expression shift, felt a stinging pain in her arm. Fire had licked through her veins as she collapsed; she’d seen his face then. Vampire. Magic was a no-go; whatever he’d shot into her didn’t allow the level of focus needed to work up a spell. She’d felt herself fading slowly and then…nothing. Until now.
Her hair was in her eyes and she moved to push it back. For a second she thought she was paralyzed, but then she realized her hands were bound behind her back. She shifted slightly and tried to sit up, wincing as pain shot through her body. How long had she been out? Her leg was asleep and her muscles were cramped, her shoulder and hip both sore from lying on what felt like a cement floor. Where the hell was she? Her mind expanded, reaching out in an attempt to contact someone, anyone, and get some help. Pain exploded behind her eyes and she groaned in agony; something was blocking her, something powerful.
“Your magic won’t work here, witch.” Willow jerked her head towards the voice, her eyes still unable to focus properly.
“Who are you? What do you want?” She heard him laugh as he crossed the room and hauled her to her feet. He sniffed at her neck and she shuddered, trying to pull away.
“It’s not important who I am, not really any of your business either, but I will tell you what I want.” She felt him shift into game face against her cheek and began to struggle. “Or rather, show you.” His fangs scraped across her throat before breaking the skin.
“Marcus!” Willow was abruptly released. Unable to support herself, she crumpled to the floor, banging her knee as she went down. “You know better than that,” the woman continued. “She’s not your dinner, you idiot. I need her for the final ritual.”
“Sorry, she just looks so…yummy when she’s scared.”
“Mmm, she does, doesn’t she?” Willow shifted as the two vampires walked away. “But she’s special; no one touches her. Understand?”
“I’m not stupid, Sorcha. I was only going to have a taste.” There was a dull thud, and Willow heard Marcus grunt in pain.
“We have rules here, Marcus. You either follow the rules or I kill you.” Another grunt. “The rules are simple really. No touching the witch, no tasting the witch, and no talking back to me. Ever. Do you think you can follow the rules, Marcus? Do you understand, or do I dust you right here?”
“No. I understand.”
“Good. Now, come with me; Lucius wishes to speak with you.” The door clanged shut and Willow tried to wriggle into a less painful position. Closing her eyes to hold back tears, she whispered,
* * * *
Where the hell was he? She’d been there since six in the damn morning; why wasn’t he home? His bed hadn’t been slept in, but she figured he probably wasn’t off with some woman. Not that it was impossible, but this was still Giles. From what he’d told Tara, there was something big going on over here; the Giles she knew wouldn’t take off for a quick lay in the middle of a crisis. She wondered if there had been some more trouble. That was the most likely explanation, and one that definitely did not make the waiting easier.
She’d already popped back to Sunnydale once to let them know what was up. As she’d suspected, the locating spell hadn’t worked. These vampires knew what they were doing, and Dawn suspected some of their magicks had been around nearly as long as she had. How had she let them catch her so off guard? This was the battle she’d been created to fight and she hadn’t even seen it coming. She’d gotten cocky. Fighting regular vampires, dealing with simple threats had dulled her instincts, and Willow had paid the price. She only hoped they’d be able to find her in time.
* * * *
“Did it hurt?” Spike glanced up at Tara’s question.
“When she bit you. Did it hurt?”
“What?” Spike leaned forward in confusion.
“I mean, that’s what they do, right? Vampires. That’s probably why they took her. For food. I just…wondered. Does it hurt?”
“Tara, come here, pet.” He put his arm around her and tucked her close against his side. “If that’s all they wanted, they’d have done it here. They wouldn’t have drugged her and hauled her away.” Kissing her gently on the head, he squeezed her arm comfortingly. “Dawn’ll figure it out; don’t you worry, luv. And then we’ll fight like we always do and take her back. You’ll see. We’ll get her back.”
* * * *
Dawn heard the key in the door, and rushed over, waiting anxiously. Giles opened the door, thoroughly engrossed in the book he was holding, and shut the door without looking up.
“Where the hell have you been?” Giles jerked backwards, letting out a yelp as he dropped the book. Dawn couldn’t hold back a laugh, but it quickly faded as she remembered what had brought her here.
“Dawn, you very nearly gave me a heart attack.”
“I know, and I’m sorry. You can berate me later; right now I need you to come with me.” She held out her hand and he hesitated.
“I can tell by your tone that this is important, but is my making the trip absolutely necessary?”
“The Jhidara have Willow. I don’t know how far along they are in the rituals and we really need your help.” He took her hand, bending down to scoop up his book.
* * * *
“Did you get a hold of her?” Xander asked without looking up from the paper. Anya paced worriedly back and forth across the living room.
“No, and I’ve been calling all morning.”
“Maybe they went out, or maybe they’re, you know, sleeping in.”
“I don’t know why you feel the need to use euphemisms; it’s unclear and inaccurate. Just say ‘having sex’ and be done with it!” Xander tossed the paper on the couch.
“Why are you so worried?”
“I don’t know; I just have a bad feeling.” He reached out as she passed by, catching hold of her hand and pulling her down next to him.
“I’m sure everything is fine, but if it makes you feel better we can go over and check.” Anya nodded.
* * * *
She heard the door open and rolled towards the sound, every muscle in her body screaming in protest. She wished they would at least put her in a comfy room, but she figured that keeping her cozy didn’t really go along with the whole pain and suffering motif they had working for them. Damn vampires. She felt like laughing and wondered if maybe she wasn’t getting just a tad hysterical. Then gentle hands shifted her around and she was being cradled in a comforting embrace. Great, now she was delirious. Then as her hair was brushed away from her eyes she heard the female voice from earlier.
“I thought I should come down and get to know you since we’re going to be such good friends.” Willow tried for a sarcastic laugh, but it came out as more of a gurgle.
“I don’t make friends with vampires,” she rasped.
“Really?” She seemed to be considering that. “I guess that’s true. Spike doesn’t exactly qualify anymore, does he? Don’t worry, though, I’ll show you what a real vampire is. I’ll teach you all about it. After all, we’re going to be working together soon; it’s only fair that I share my expertise.”
“I’ve learned all I need to about vampires, thanks. And I doubt very seriously I’ll be working with you so you can keep your so called expertise to yourself.” She tried to raise her voice above a whisper, but it just made her cough.
“That’s a nasty cough; you’re throat must be awfully dry. I’ll tell you what; we’ll have ourselves a nice little conversation – I’ll tell you all about the ritual you’ll be helping me with – and then I’ll get you something to drink. How does that sound?”
Willow tried her best to give Sorcha a dirty look, but she wasn’t sure if it really came off. It was super creepy being held like a child by some psycho nut job with a need to bond. She hoped the vampire would get tired of yapping soon and leave her alone. Or maybe the gang would come crashing in soon to rescue her; she wondered if they even knew she was gone. If something had happened to Tara, they might never know. She couldn’t think like that; Tara was fine and they’d all be here soon. She just had to be brave and wait a little longer. She squeezed her eyes shut tight and sent up a fervent prayer. Please hurry!
* * * *
“So what are we dealing with here?”
“Unimaginable forces working to unleash an ancient evil,” Dawn said, collapsing into a chair.
“Always knew you had a touch of the dramatic in you, sweet,” Spike said, his eyes troubled even as he tried to smile.
“Unfortunately that wasn’t so much dramatic as it was an accurate description. Many of the Jhidara are capable of harnessing forces that are almost beyond comprehension. They’ve been honing their skills for thousands of years, waiting for just the right time.” Dawn moved to sit next to Spike, needing the comfort of having him near. “Sorcha is one of them. She’s probably the youngest.” Giles looked startled.
“I though you killed Sorcha in that last battle.”
“I thought so too at first, but I’ve known for awhile that she’s alive or, you know, undead. Whatever.” Spike glanced at her, his jaw clenched in anger.
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t want to worry you any more than you already were.” She stroked his cheek, attempting to soothe him, but he just looked at her, his expression stony.
“This is my fight too. Or have you forgotten that we’re supposed to be a bloody team?”
“I’m sorry.” He held her gaze but then his face softened.
“No, I’m sorry. I’m just worried and I’m being a git taking it out on you.” They all descended into silence for a moment until Tara spoke up,
“What does any of this have to do with Willow? I mean, why would they take her with them? Why didn’t they just kill her?” Dawn shared a look with Giles before answering,
“They’re probably planning to use her power somehow. I’m not sure why they would need it, but that’s the only thing I can think of.”
“So then we just have to get her back. Like when Anya and Spike were taken. Dawn probably knows where, and then we can just…pop in and grab her.” Tara looked up hopefully, but Dawn looked down at the floor. “Right?”
“It’s not that easy,” she said softly. “I didn’t even know they were coming until it was too late. They’re doing things to block me; I think I can find her, but it’s just…harder now. A lot harder.”
“But it’s just Sorcha. She didn’t give you much trouble before.”
“It’s not just her. She’s one of several hundred. If I’m right about what’s going on, they’ve spread out over the globe and the rituals have already begun.” She glanced at Giles. “That’s probably what’s been going on over your way.”
“I’m betting it’s going on all over. I’m going to work on finding Willow; Tara can help me. Giles, you and Spike look through the books here and get the details of the rituals. Xander and Anya can check out the national papers at the library, find out what’s been going on in the world lately and where.” She paused for a moment and then blew out a frustrated breath. “Dammit! They don’t even know yet.” Giles ran a weary hand through his hair.
“I can’t believe we didn’t think to call them.”
“I’d better go get them. You guys go ahead and start on the research; I’ll be back soon.” Dawn closed her eyes briefly. “Xander’s going to be devastated.”
“You want I should go with you?” Spike asked. She shook her head.
“No, I’ll do it.” And then she was gone.
* * * *
“I was looking for you earlier,” Lucius said when Sorcha came in. “Marcus said you were with the witch. Did she give you any trouble?”
“You know she can’t. She has quite a mouth on her though, a real spitfire.” He smiled.
“Have you found a new toy?”
“Highly unlikely.” She moved towards him as she stripped out of her clothes.
“She could be for both of us, you know. If you ask nicely.” She crawled into his lap and ran her finger over his mouth. Drawing it into his mouth, he bit just hard enough to make her smile. “We’ll all be such good friends. Just remember, she’s mine first. I’m just letting you share.” Lucius smiled. This could prove to be fun.