Chapter Six

The pig-snout minions waved their pikes menacingly at Spike. He stood there, calculating how many stabs he would take before he could crush them into tiny pieces. The minions looked weaker than a fledge just out of the grave. He could take them.

Then Spike noticed something very important about the pikes. They weren't made of metal. They were made of highly polished wood. Like...stakes.

There went the crush, kill, destroy plan. Did he have some curse hanging over him he didn't know about? Even wanker minions like these should be able to hit the heart if there's enough of them. One lucky swing and it's Bye-Bye Spike, Hello Pile-Of-Dust. Which definitely wasn't on his calendar, for, say, at least a few more centuries. Preferably never.

The biggest pig-snout jabbed his stake into Spike's chest. Spike quickly backed away.

"Be's nicey-nice vampire and we's not be making big dust mess." He nodded firmly, increasing the pike's pressure. "Dark lady say so. You no fightses us, we no stakeses you."

Spike held up his hands, classic sign for surrender. "Whatever you say, mate." Backing up slowly, he carefully eased away from the circle. "Now if you don't mind, I'll be on my way."

He was almost out of range when the head pig-snout finally figured out what was going on. Spike quickly stopped moving when a dozen or so stakes pricked his flesh.

"You goes where I says, vampire. And I says you goes to dungeon."

Okay. New plan. These pig-snouts didn't look that smart. "And if you give me some directions, I'll go there right away. No need for you to bother showing me."

The head hog just made a grunting noise and pressed his pike harder. Spike felt it break the skin. "Nuh-uh. You follows us. I not stupid." Head Hog puffed out his chest. "I smartest minion ever. Dark lady say so. And I says you goes dungeon!" He turned to a fellow pig-snout and grunted something. A command, Spike guessed. Then the pike came flying through the air and smacked him in the back of the head.


Spike came to slowly, his head aching worse than the fourth day of a three day binge. As he tried to clear his vision, he realized several important things. First, he was, in fact, in a dungeon. The rotting skeletons, dripping water, and dank stone were dead giveaways. Second, his wrists were chained to the wall. Third, and most importantly, a darkly elegant woman was standing before him, leaning slightly on a staff as tall as he was.

She was tall and thin, with dark robes gracefully gliding along her body, as if they would not dare to wrinkle. Her expression was coolly composed, and reminded Spike of Darla on a bad day. That icy, dispassionate face of someone who coldly calculated and controlled everything about them. This must be Maleficent.

Spike had a strong feeling things had just gone from bad to worse.

"So you are awake, vampire," the dark fairy spoke, her voice as icily elegant as her appearance, every word carefully chosen and pronounced. "I was worried you were going to sleep the day away."

Spike tried to straighten as much as his chains would allow. "Yeah, well, getting knocked in the head will do that to you."

"I must apologize for the reception you received, William the Bloody. I believe my men misinterpreted my orders, as it were. A guest should be shown proper courtesy, should he not?"

"I'm sure you're a real gem of a host," Spike sneered, his automatic reaction to any threat coming to the surface. If you've managed to get yourself captured, act like the cockiest bastard in creation. You may still end up dead, but at least you go out with a bang. "Bet you say that to all your prisoners."

Maleficent quirked her lips minutely. "You are as bold as they say you are, William. An admirable quality. I am most impressed."

"Impressed enough to let me go?" Spike asked, pulling at the chains binding him to the wall.

She cocked her head, examining him a moment. "Perhaps. Why are you here?"

Spike pretended to think a moment as he tried to discreetly loosen his bonds. "See, over a century ago, my dad knocked my mum up - "

"I dislike foolish answers, vampire," Maleficent cut him off. "I want to know precisely why you have come here."

"So we're back to vampire now, are we?" Spike smirked. He had almost felt that one link give a little -

"Even if you miraculously break chains enchanted to hold a full grown troll, *I* am still here. All of your admittedly formidable fighting skills would be nothing against my magic. Speak to me, vampire."

"You know why I'm here. I'm here to rescue the Slayer and get the hell out of this place. Bring her back home, where she belongs."

"Ah, yes. The dashing vampire off to save his sworn enemy turned lady love." Maleficent returned his smirk. "And what makes you believe you shall be the fair prince who will wake our princess from her spell?"

Spike glowered at her, eyes flashing yellow. "Tara said Buffy chose me." He straightened. "Buffy chose me to be her prince. Just like in the story."

Maleficent laughed. It was an echoing, mocking laugh. "You believe those, those do-gooders? My dear vampire, they have their own agenda at work here. If their precious Slayer is under a spell, of course they will try to manipulate the best candidate into freeing her." She smiled at him. "They only told you one ending. There are...other options."

Spike stared at her, uncomprehending. With a wave of her staff, Maleficent created a globe, where within lay the image of the sleeping Buffy. Spike tried to pull forward to get a better glimpse at his Slayer.

"Behold, in the top most tower of my gracious castle, dreaming peaceful dreams, lies the Slayer. She is indeed most wondrous fair. Gold of sunshine in her hair, lips that shame the red, red rose. In ageless sleep she finds repose.

In tales of times past, along comes a prince, strong and brave, to wake the fair maiden with true love's kiss. Off into the sunset they ride, steadfast, for love conquers all."

In accordance with Maleficent's words, the images within the globe changed, from princess to prince to kiss to princess and princess together, happily ever after.

"That is the ending those fairies desire. But do not consider yourself limited, William. Here is another way for the tale to end." Her voice took on that same, almost mocking intonation as she narrated the next clip. "As the princess sleeps, the years roll by, but a hundred years to a steadfast heart are 'bout a day. And now, the gates of the dungeon part, and the prince is free to go his way. Off he rides on his noble steed, a valiant figure, straight and tall, to wake his love with love's first kiss."

Maleficent watched Spike's expression intently. He is almost intrigued by what he sees, she can feel it.

"A more desirable option, indeed. What is a century to an immortal such as you? By then, her meddling, annoying friends and family will be long gone. Who will stand in the way of your love?"

Spike's eyes narrowed. He would be the first to admit that he didn't get on well with the Scoobies all the time. But by the same token, he knew how much Buffy needed them. No, that choice wasn't for him.

Maleficent's lips curved into a smile. So easy to read, this vampire was. In a gentle croon, she spoke again. "Of course, by this we suppose the Slayer actually loves you in return. But we know better, don't we? If she was to awake today or a hundred years from now, you would still be the same disgusting thing to her."

"If that was true," Spike pointed out, his voice as mocking as hers, "then you wouldn't bother locking me up, now would you? Why should you bother with someone who hasn't a chance of mucking up your fun?" He laughed. "I've got what she needs to get a real, proper pick me up." Spike took on his standard lascivious smirk, tongue curled just so. "Isn't that right?"

Maleficent's expression didn't betray her frustration. Instead, she quickly recalculated. Yes, this was a much better plan.

"It would be well within their power for those fairies to make you the one who could break the curse. A spell that changes, for an instant, your obsession with the Slayer into so-called love," her voice said the word sarcastically. "But it cannot change the Slayer's feelings for you." Maleficent waved her hand, revealing a new image in the globe. "See? This is how the Slayer truly feels about you. It is taken from her sleeping self. Watch how she treats you."

The dream Buffy was dancing with someone. Spike smiled when he realized it was himself who she was dancing with. Then Buffy shoved him away and ran out, her expression showing how disgusted she was as she ran back into Angel's arms. With him by her side, she staked the dream Spike.

Spike growled.

"Do you see now? Do you? She does not love, will never love you, William. No pathetic children's fairy tale can change that. But," Maleficent's voice grew seductive, "but, as I said, there are other options. Not all tales require the princess to wake."

The globe shimmered, then once again showed the sleeping Buffy. But this time the colors were brighter, harsher. Buffy's body was sprawled about in a far more sensuous pose than the chaste rest she had enjoyed before.

"In tales of long ago, our intrepid hero finds the sleeping maid and claims her for his own, heedless of her own wants. Forever pliant, she will remain as he desires her to be - his and only his."

Spike surged forward, pulling at his chains with all his might, his face twisted into his demon face.

"I would never - !"

"You wouldn't?" Maleficent raised an eyebrow at his indignant fury. "Isn't that what you really want? You are a vampire, a taker, a conqueror. This isn't about love, this is about having your seductive mortal enemy at your mercy. Besides," Maleficent smiled and once again, the image in the globe changed.

Buffy, chained to a wall much as Spike now was, looked straight up and hissed, "The only chance you had with me was when I was unconscious."

Spike winced at the unwelcome reminder at his botched confession of love. "I didn't then and I won't now," he swore. "And you are stupider than I thought if you thought I would."

"Really? That's what you say?" Maleficent leaned in close to him, and in a whisper said, "What if she was to wake up? I cast the spell, it would be in my power. She awakes, and with only a mere twist of magic, she is yours. Your willing slave. Whatever you desire is what she desires. Perfectly willing in whatever you want. No force necessary."

Spike glared at her, hating how much he was tempted by those words. For Buffy to willingly be his...

"Think about it, William. Instead of being that disgusting dead thing, you would be her world."

"It wouldn't be her."

"I know you, William. I know what you are capable of. Wouldn't it be better to have an echo of her, totally devoted to you, than the one who hates your very existence?"

"It wouldn't be real."

"It would be real enough."

Spike stared at the image now in the globe, of the Slayer lying there, open and for the taking. The demon in him shouted and told him to take this, to take what little he could.

"Get. The. Hell. OUT!" Spike snarled, throwing himself at Maleficent. "You better hope I never get loose. Because then you're going to die. Painfully."

"A most unwise decision and threat," Maleficent said, gracefully turning to leave. "I hope you like this place. If you stand still, the rats might come close enough for a bite. Farewell, foolish vampire."

She swept out.