Title: The End Of The Beginning
Title: And we drown
Pairing: Xander/Spike (eventually)
Overall Rating: NC17
Chapter Rating: R
Beta: shakatany the fabulous
Disclaimer: No money, not mine.
AN: Again, I can’t stress enough, please realise that this chapter, like the last few is dark. If you’re wanting puppies and rainbows, please go back three steps and through the pink door, because this way lies pain.
He learned to fear the quiet times. And eventually, he learned to crave the agony of his body exploding into splinters of pain. Because when there was silence and the complete darkness of his holding cell, he was never quite certain whether he was waiting or whether he'd just... stopped.
Through it all green eyes puzzled him, and the thought that he was forgetting something was a stubborn fly buzzing around the edges of his consciousness. Sometimes, when he slipped into sleep, he thought he understood it all, just before oblivion took over and the thought slipped back into the moments between blinks.
More pressing than green eyes were blue. Where green eyes looked sad, sometimes angry, blue eyes held something he couldn't quite identify. A frozen heat that made him almost reach for the memories he was sure were just out of sight before crystal terror drove him away with a force that rocked his head back.
The Holders changed, some came back, some didn't. He learned to tell the ones who liked the sound of snapping bones, and the ones who liked the sound of screams wrenched from what was left of his soul. He met them all with a passive face and perfect kneeling posture.
After a while he stopped learning and just breathed.
His latest Holder was not a species he knew, nor one the Keepers had thought to give him special training for. He tried to dredge up anger at the Keepers but stopped as soon as he realised that all there was left to him was passive acceptance. When he was handled into the back of a van - his leash hooked above his head - he mentally shifted the demon from the "bone breaker" to "screamer" category.
Shifting his weight to compensate for the rocking of the vehicle he stopped as soon as he noticed the demon glancing at him in the rear-view mirror, struggling slightly to maintain his posture through a particularly sharp turn. Rising at the tug on his collar he ignored the ache that flared up from his knees with barely a thought. Following the demon into an unfamiliar warehouse he paid no mind as his Holder stopped to talk. When the leash changed hands his head almost snapped up from its respectable position. The leash never changed hands without a Keeper there. The Keepers were the in-between, they made sure his bones were mended and the lacerations that so often littered his skin didn't scar. The leash never changed hands without a Keeper.
He tried to pay attention to what was being said, but neither of them was speaking English, and the demon languages he'd picked up did him no good. As the leash pulled tight and he was led away by his new Holder he wondered if he should be panicked, quickly deciding that whether he was worried or not, nothing would change the situation and so followed docilely.
The times when the leash changed hands without a Keeper were harder. Where the other demons were predictable, his hidden Holders weren't. The pain was familiar, routine. The talking wasn't. Most of his Holders didn't speak unless it was to issue an order, but this one whispered secrets, secrets about blue eyes. Told him that the icy heat he'd spent so long reaching for/away from was simply disgust at what he'd become. This Holder hissed ugly truths that wormed their way under his skin until all he could see was contempt and disgust.
Eventually, in the way he'd come to crave the pain, he came to need the searing agony those whispered truths gave him. Needed that sneering mouth that dripped venom while lash marks bloomed on his back to remind him what he was; a plaything to demons... because he was starting to forget even that.