A week passed with time oozing like molasses on a cold day. And with every day, Giles strength improved that much more. Only a scar remained where the mark of death was mystically denied. He wondered if Buffy fared the same in her impulsive sacrifice. On the surface, it would seem an act of profound selflessness. But the Watcher in Giles knew better. It was incredibly foolish for her to relinquish any of her power to save the hide of one man. He should be disappointed. He should be furious. But in truth, he loved her more for it, the terminal romantic winning out over the logical Watcher.
Not that he'd ever admit such a thing or even find the chance to. Giles managed seeing Buffy in a waking state for only a couple hours, give or take a passing glance, every day for a week. He told himself it was for the best. If she ever saw an opportunity to escape, she just might take it, fueled by her anger towards him. But there was another part of him that missed her terribly, pleading silently for her to come back to him.
It had been difficult deceiving her, manipulating her, really. After all, he knew what he was doing, telling her something that would drive a vast wedge between them. Though there was a hint of truth to it, just as you might find in anything, he supposed, there was doubt as well. And he had to admit their falling out had the unintended consequence of driving her away much more than he'd anticipated.
Most of the week was spent worrying over what torment she was facing in the company of her would-be protector turned heavy-handed benefactor. The only comfort he could manage was that Buffy was strong of will and mind, moreover she was a Slayer. She could endure whatever cruelty was thrown at her. Then again, physical pain was never of the deepest concern. Giles could only hope his words hadn't chinked her armor.
The sound of footsteps could be heard off in the distance and Giles listened closely, holding his breath to hear and hope. Buffy was giggling and chatting up Vik as they approached. Giles took a deep breath to calm his nerves. When her face passed the portal, his heart fluttered.
"There's more where that comes from, Babe," Vik promised as he unlocked the cell door. "You be good, now, and I'll give you a special treat tomorrow night." He pulled back the door and held it for her as she entered.
"It's a date." The smile on Buffy's face sent a chill down Giles' spine. It looked damned near genuine. He didn't notice his fists clenching until his untrimmed nails bit into his palm.
"You bet your sweet ass." Vik gave her a slap on the backside and it took all of Giles self-control not to charge after bastard. "Don't forget to tuck Pops into bed before you come around. Wouldn't want the old man to be all confused, now, would we? You know the mind's the first thing to go." With a glance to Giles, Vik feigned embarrassment. "Oh, sorry Pops, didn't see you there."
"Likewise," Giles said evenly, staring at Buffy as she staggered further into the cell, looking abundantly intoxicated.
"Got her home before lock down. You should be glad someone's looking after her."
"She doesn't need your sort of looking after."
"Think she disagrees." Vik smirked, watching as Buffy tripped forward to spill onto the bench. "Don't be too hard on her, Pops. She's had a bit too much fun. Can't blame a girl for cutting loose once in a while. And believe me, she is loose once I'm through with her." Vik gave his armored privates a crude grope and locked the door, chuckling as moved on to do his rounds.
Giles stepped up to the bench, preparing to interrogate Buffy as would a parole officer. "You've been drinking."
"So what? You're allowed to get tits up drunk and I can't have a few to take the edge off?" She slurred, pushing herself upright. "You know what you are?" She directed a swaying finger towards him. "You’re a… you’re a… you’re a hypo… hippopotamus is what you are, Giles. You know that?"
There was evidence of more assaults. Nothing as noticeable as before but the signs of struggle were pathetically clear. Bruises stained her wrist as well as her neck, and there was what looked to be a bite on her earlobe. All were shallow in appearance. In fact, some looked older. Too old. That's when he realized she wasn't healing, not as a Slayer should. The Watcher stirred.
"Are you alright?" He asked softly.
"Nothing a good night's sleep won't fix." She dismissed his concern with a wave. "What do you care? Did I ruin some big night for you? Plan on having me hang you or choke you or maybe smother you with your… "
"That's enough, Buffy."
"No. You don't get to tell me what's enough. *I* tell me what's enough." She stood and staggered up to him, poking a finger at his chest. "A matter of fact, I tell *you* what's enough. Got it?"
"Buffy, you're drunk. Get some rest and we'll discuss this in the morning like civilized adults."
"So I'm uncivilized now?"
"Among other things, yes." Giles sighed deeply, biting back his frustration. "Look, I'm sorry. I'm tired, Buffy, as you must be. Let's get some rest… please." He reached out and calmly took her arm to try and encourage her to lie down. She yanked her arm free and gave him a push with barely enough force to send him a single step back. He could only hope it was the alcohol.
"Don't… don't touch me!" It was obvious she was shaken by her lack of strength.
"Fine," he responded tersely. "I'll leave you alone."
"Yeah, you will. It's what you're good at." She slumped onto the bench, watching as he put some distance between them. Once he sank to the floor, she lied down and drifted off into a drunken slumber.
An hour passed before the peace and quiet of the dungeon at night was interrupted by footsteps. Vik's blue eyes peered within the portal and unfortunately, Giles could tell he was smiling.
"What, no beddy-bye for you, Gramps?"
"Don't you ever rest?" Giles spoke softly, though chances were nothing would get a rise from the drunken Slayer sleeping it off.
"Can't. Too excited. Like Christmas or something. Every time I close my eyes, I see my girl and the things she does. She's fucking Santa Claus and I can't wait for another…"
"You'd be wise to move on."
"Whatever you say." He tossed a small paper sack through the bars. "Give her this when she wakes up, will you?"
"What is it?"
"Just a little something to show my appreciation."
Giles reluctantly fetched the sack and glanced inside. It was a small tube of toothpaste and a children's toothbrush with a cartoon character shaped handle.
"To get my taste outta her mouth." Vik chuckled and with a wink, continued on.
"Give me strength," Giles hissed quietly through clenched teeth and returned to his dark corner. He listened as the footsteps faded, his anger dulling with distance. Then he closed his eyes to escape the dungeon atmosphere to be inundated with crude images rampant in his mind. Plump lips on undeserving flesh. Lithe fingers teasing and caressing foul skin. Moans and cries echoing along the damp brick and mortar to a shameless audience of jailers. Caresses turned to scratches, scratches to strangle, strangle to punches.
The promise of sleep remained only that, a promise.
It had become a sick, torturous routine. Giles would wake alone, if he'd managed sleep, or spend his waking hours watching Buffy sleep off whatever drugs or drink she'd indulged in to cope with her twisted philandering. Sadly she was becoming dependant on such chemical distractions. Giles recognized the symptoms well, having suffered them in his youth. He forgave her as best he could, focusing his energies on something more productive, escape.
Within the estimated two weeks since his near demise, Giles had taken advantage of Vik's increased visits, mentally noting information on the sorcerer guard. On occasion, the man would favor his left leg, cringing in discomfort when the moisture grew to intolerable levels. Humidity hindered his breathing as well, sometimes revealed as a wheeze or a chuckle dissolving into a cough.
When lacking his cell companion, Giles took to testing Vik, attacking without provocation but to experiment success with different approaches. A straight on attack proved just as unreliable as a surprise attack from behind. Unfortunately, the guard was expertly trained. Strangely enough, Vik seemed to take a liking to the challenges, choosing to keep Giles as his other play toy rather than kill him for his insolence. It would seem Vik had grown so efficient with his skills, the inmates wouldn't dare defy him. So Giles would try, failed assault after failed assault, accepting whatever wounds as tools of his trade. What data he gathered was of tremendous interest. Not only were Vik's magicks consistent, they were unerring. Giles knew this wasn't possible unless being aided by an outside source. But what was most intriguing was whatever damage Giles received in his trials healed inhumanly fast. That coupled with the familiar and consistent sour tang in his mouth, Giles concluded he must still be under the influence of Vik's magicks which meant it was likely Buffy was continually feeding him her energies.
It enraged him. How could Buffy permit that perverted bastard to continually defile her? More than that, willing reduce herself into a inebriated stupor leaving him, and God knows who else, to have at her any way he wished? It was lunacy.
Buffy certainly wasn't talking. She was barely acknowledging Giles' existence anymore, being much more open to the gratuitous visits by her jailer. Giles had more questions than answers, neither of which he was certain he wanted. One thing was for certain, it was time Buffy told him the truth.
Vik appeared beyond the door with his arm draped over Buffy's shoulders. She giggled, she smiled, she flirted as if on a date back in high school. Christ, she flirted with shameless abandon. But the final cut, the one that hurt most, was when she leaned in and kissed him, a slow, tender kiss. Giles hands curled tight at his sides, nails biting into his palm with the nauseous display. The time was ripe for answers.