Buffy paced back and forth in her cell.
It had been four days – four, long, torturous days since Quinn had made his grand declaration, and he hadn't said a word to her since; clearly playing things close to the vest was a personality trait of his, a very annoying one.
If that wasn’t bad enough, he had also left his cell an unusually amount of times. In fact, at that very moment, he was off somewhere, whisked away under mysterious circumstances.
And it was killing her.
With a sound of frustration, Buffy threw herself on her bed. As soon as she did, however, she heard something.
Just then, she heard something. Footsteps. Lots of them. Heading straight for her.
Buffy jumped to her feet, instinctively backing as far into the cell as she could.
Then her door swung open, and there was a virtual armada of vamps standing on the other side.
She immediately dropped into a defensive stance, daring them to come closer.
This was it. Whatever Quinn had tried obviously had failed.
Except no one made a move. They just stood there. If anything, they looked a little bored
. And now that she had time to get a good look at them, she realized that she didn’t recognize a single one.
They were completely different guards than before.
Though she was thoroughly confused, Buffy didn’t change her position, contemplating what she should do next.
“Buffy, don’t. It’s okay.”
Buffy gave a start. Quinn. Suddenly, Quinn was there, pushing his way through the vamps, walking toward her until he was less than a foot away.
“Quinn? What the heck is going on?” she asked, completely bewildered.
He gave her a small, almost sad smile. “You’re leaving.”
Buffy felt her jaw drop. She had thought he would try to finagle a contract or something along those lines. But her release?
Something wasn’t right.
“What? How? What did you do?” she exclaimed, searching his face for answers.
Quinn shook his head. “I know you protect people, but can’t you just let someone protect you? Every once in awhile?”
She was going to reply, to demand he answer her, but then he reached out, gently touching her cheek.
Then he enveloped her in a hard, bruising hug – and as he did, he slipped a piece of paper into the waistband of her pants.
Before she could fully comprehend what was going on, he released her and walked away without so much as a backwards look.
“Quinn! QUINN!” she shouted, but it was no use.
The vampires swarmed her then, and before she knew it, she was being dumped back in the throne room – or at least, what used to be the throne room. Now it resembled a swanky executive suite, complete with an ornate oak desk.
Behind the desk sat a vampire. He was extremely attractive, with short brown hair and dark eyes.
She recognized him immediately, and suddenly, it all made sense.
This was Victor. He had been at almost all her fights, sitting next to Thalia in his impeccable suit, watching her with a gleam in his eye.
He still had that gleam now. The suit, too.
“So we finally meet,” he said, his voice oozing charm as he got up from behind the desk and walked around to her. He gazed down at her, a delighted look on his face. “I must say, it is a pleasure.”
Buffy pressed her lips together in annoyance. She so did not have the patience for niceties.
“What did he do?” she demanded.
Victor raised his eyebrow. “Quinn took on your debt and arranged for your release,” he said, like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
“But his family—” Buffy sputtered.
“That weretiger is a shrewd negotiator,” he replied, the faintest trace of respect flitting across his face. “We’ll look after them until he’s released. Or if he dies, because really, no one has ever survived three full years in the Pits.”
Buffy clenched her fists, trying to reign in her anger. Quinn was supposed to leave this place in less than three months. Now he had another whole year of this. And Victor talked about it like he was talking about the weather.
“So young and yet so much power,” she heard Victor murmur. “I don’t suppose I could convince you to stay? Not as a prisoner, of course, but as my guest. I could set you up with a home, an identity, anything you desire.”
As he spoke, he began to stroke her hair.
Buffy had to fight the urge to break his hand. The fact that it would probably land her back in a cell helped.
She settled for stepping out of his reach.
Victor shook his head regretfully. “We’re not all like Thalia. She has... aggression issues, even amongst her own kind.”
Buffy snorted. “Never would’ve guessed,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
Both of Victor’s eyebrows rose at this, and there was a noticeable lapse in conversation as he studied her, a thoughtful look on his face. Then he sighed, and the spell was broken.
“Well, a deal’s a deal, and I did get control of the Pits as a result of Thalia’s disobedience. Though I have to give credit where it’s due. ‘The Lady or the Tiger’ is rather catchy,” he mused. He gazed at her for a moment, his eyes lingering on her face before he spoke again. “If you ever change your mind...”
Buffy stared at the business card that had suddenly appeared in Victor’s hand.
Slowly, reluctantly, she took it from him. To her surprise, Victor just gave her one more smile before turning away.
“So that’s it? I’m free? Just like that?” she blurted out.
It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to say, but she couldn’t help it. After all she had been through trying to escape, the agony and despair and hopelessness, only to be dismissed so casually.
Victor turned back toward her, his head cocked to the side. “Would you prefer something else?”
“No! I—” Buffy began.
But the words died on her lips.
She had thought that there would be threats of some kind, that if she talked about the Pits to anyone, there would be consequences. When she really thought about it, though, she realized they didn’t have to.
If she told any human, they would think she was crazy. And if by some chance they did
believe her, she was only putting them in danger. Telling anyone of the supernatural persuasion was out of the question, too; they all bought into this messed up system, so they probably wouldn’t take too kindly to criticism. If anything, they might attack her
And then there was Quinn. They knew he was her Achilles heel; and she his. She didn’t doubt for one second that they would exploit that if it suited them – or if she forced their hand.
Feeling more than a little resentment, Buffy stared back at Victor.
His smile just grew wider. Then he turned away again.
“Wait,” Buffy protested. “Let me see Quinn first. Please, just one more time.”
But Victor paid no attention to her, his guards flanking her on either side.
The next thing Buffy knew, she was being blindfolded. She didn’t know why they bothered, because soon after that, she received a blow on the head, one strong enough to knock her out cold.
When she woke up, she was in a car. In Vegas, of all places; at least, that was what the bright lights searing her corneas seemed to say.
There was a vampire next to her. As soon as he saw she was awake, he opened the door, clearly signaling that she was to get out.
Though her head was pounding, Buffy didn’t hesitate, still not quite able to believe it was for real. It wasn’t until her feet hit the street that it started to sink in.
Buffy turned, only just managing to catch whatever the vamp had thrown at her. It was a small purse. With money inside, right next to Victor’s business card.
She looked at the vamp in disbelief.
“Some of your earnings,” he grunted, right before he slammed the door shut.
Then the car sped off, and Buffy was all alone.
The first thought that entered her mind was Quinn. Almost frantically, she reached for the waistband of her pants.
A wave of relief washed over her as she pulled out the piece of paper he had slipped her. Moving as quickly as she could, she unfolded it, her eyes devouring his small, neat handwriting. Get as far away from here as you can and don’t ever
look back. They’ll be looking for you. And remember,
you can’t save people that don’t want to be saved.
Tears stung Buffy’s eyes. Quinn was telling her to leave well enough alone, to forget her time in the Pits, to forget about revenge, to forget about him.
He was protecting her.
Maybe one day, she’d be able to forgive him for it.
She crumpled the note in her hand. After a moment, however, she smoothed it out, carefully folded the paper back up, and tucked it into her purse.
Then she started walking. To where, she had no idea.
She had no family, no friends, no home, nothing. She wasn’t even sure who
she was anymore. She definitely wasn’t Anne, but she didn’t quite feel like Buffy anymore, either.
That’s when it hit her; that although she had survived the Pits, it was far from over. Now she had to see if she could live
. +++The End
So that’s all she wrote, folks! (Though I will admit, I am 75% sure there will be a sequel, one that starts 15 years from now right in the middle of the SVM books...) Thank you for coming along for the ride! I hope you enjoyed this little story of mine.
Thank you AllenPitt, Ava, blueyes, clockworkorange, dharkcharlotte, ginvirus, Iceflame, Luna, Nightscream, NutsContract, pezz, slatergirl, SlayerandWereLeopard, SlowMercury, starshinedown, SweetChi, and Vickzie for reviewing, and to AwesomeGeek, DeepRed, Runewolf, and VaMpEdChiK for reccing! I really appreciate it!
And a very special thanks to kerrykhat and SweetChi for being the most amazing sounding boards/fact checkers/brainstormers ever! I couldn’t have done this without you!