Godless Provenance: Chapter 12
See Chapter 1 for disclaimers and ratings.O o O o O o O
The passage was small and narrow, lit only by the poisonous clouds that glowed with a luminous firelight from the unstable cracks in the walls. The fumes were stronger here, but already Buffy was far enough away from Netu's surface that the blankets of ash were all but gone and she encountered nothing but heated rock beneath each carefully placed step. She had made this trip enough times that this walk had become intimate to her. Up ahead the narrow passage would widen into a larger cavern that branched into four different corridors - only one of which would take her home. Yet no matter how familiar the route, this trip was fundamentally different as she was without Jack's easy gait and amusing quips that never allowed life to be dull. Not to mention that she was sorely missing the extra set of arms.
Her trip to the surface had been a rousing success, and she had managed to amass enough 'food' and 'water' to keep her and Jack set for at least another few weeks - or at least weeks as far as they could tell time. Her arms were overloaded with battered containers, and she had even managed to snag another bit of the gray goopy stuff that somehow managed to be not as nauseating as the rest of the crap that they had been forced to eat. She was pleased with herself, and knew that Jack would be suitably impressed. More food meant less trips to the surface which equaled less danger of inhaling the more toxic fumes and gasses. That also meant less chance of getting into it with another denizen over the rotten food that everyone hoarded.
Lady Luck seemed to be smiling in her direction - and that really should have been Buffy's first clue, for since when did that
The goa'uld's name was said slowly, precisely, and in a voice that was familiar in a way that it shouldn't have been. Buffy stopped at the entrance to the cavern, her arms tightening on her stash as she turned to the five denizens that were camped out against one wall, waiting for her. Four were unfamiliar - the usual lumping of large, brutish men - no, goa'uld. She could tell the difference now, thanks to all of the naquadah that too many dead goa'uld symbiotes had left in her bloodstream. It was sort of like being able to sense a vampire, only less like a sixth sense that came with being a slayer, and something that was tied more with her body and the way it reacted, or hummed, around a symbiote.
"You don't remember me?"
Focusing on the fifth goa'uld, Buffy knew that she had never before seen the guy - didn't know him, couldn't remember him - and yet she did
remember him. Her arms tightened on her load without conscious thought, squeezing things in a way that ruined them more, while her eyes remained locked on his. He was short and thin, his features Asian and his face once handsome but now haggard and caked with dirt and grime. He wore robes that were once rich and beautiful, but were now ripped and frayed - patched in places with material that could have been tanned leather had there been any animals down here to skin. He was an utter stranger, and yet he-Cards.The goa'uld version of poker night.Seated on pillows around a low table, legs crossed beneath her. But the legs were wrong - bigger, muscular, with thick, dark curly hair pooling out around the ankles. Men's ankles.Looking up. Large room, dark and smoky. Hand-weaved tapestries on the wall, heady incense coating everything in perfumed clouds. Beautiful women barely dressed - servants - flitting around the table with pots of tea. Bow low and obedient.Across the table sits a proud man - eyes flash golden, goa'uld. Asian features, neatly combed hair, dark kohl smudged around narrowed eyes, diamond flashing in one ear lobe.Most beautiful of all women crouched by his side, head bowed low - lo'taur, his most trusted human slave.Friend.Ally.Poker buddy.
"Janus," Buffy murmured, forcibly pulling herself from the collage of vivid memories that she had no desire seeing. At the slow grin that split the goa'uld's face, she knew that she had guessed right - a fact for which she didn't know if she should be grateful or repulsed. Jack had explained that even though Haremakhet was dead, Ass-Hat wasn't truly gone forever. Not really. Willingly or not, because she was his host, no matter how briefly, his genetic memory was still with her - locked away in a place that she never intentionally meant to visit. It was moments like these, however, during which Ass-Hat's memories came to the foreground, triggered by something that would take her by surprise as she became immersed in a world that she didn't know, overwhelmed by feelings, desires, and thoughts that made her skin crawl. It was a horrible reminder of something that she would much rather forget - a violation that Ass-Hat wouldn't let her get past, no matter that she had killed him so many weeks, months, or years ago.
"Of course I remember you," she continued as she felt her tension ease. "But I'm afraid that Haremakhet isn't in right now. If you want, I can take a message and he'll get back to you as soon as he gets back," she offered nonchalantly as she entered the cavern and started angling towards the tunnel that would take her back to Jack.
"So the rumors of my old friend
are true," Janus murmured, the stress he placed on 'friend' enough to have Buffy reevaluate her earlier danger estimate. That and the fact that his friends quickly fanned out, blocking her exit with looks that didn't promise fun things. "Haremakhet has relinquished control to his host while he suffers his sentence in silence," Janus continued as he stepped closer until he was standing before her.
Suddenly Buffy wasn't so sure that Janus was still the poker buddy that she remembered from her brief flash from Ass-Hat's memories. Small eyes glittering in the vaporous light, the short man slowly spread his dirty hands as he looked over her sweat-streaked, grime-encrusted frame - and the burning anger and cruelty she saw in his eyes were more than enough to convince that she was definitely missing something here. Something pretty big and important.
"Listen, if you have some business with Haremakhet, it's going to have to wait," she stated, her chin jutting defiantly as she tightened her hold on her stash. "We're not even talking right now, so I was kidding about the whole taking a message thing. Just... just give it a few hundred years and maybe he'll be feeling more social and then you can try again."
"He has already waited too long for what he did to Seronin," Janus ground out, his eyes flashing gold as he took a slow, measured step forward that instinctively caused Buffy to back that same distance away. "She was mine
!" he growled, stepping forward once more, but this time Buffy wasn't able to step back as one of his goons towered behind her, blocking her escape.Card room.Slaves are gone. Janus is gone. Clouds of incense heady, thick, dimming her view and filling her lungs.Someone enters the room. She is small - smaller than Buffy's suddenly towering frame - petite. Seronin, Janus' lo'taur.Beautiful. So beautiful.She is startled by Buffy's presence, bows low and turns to leave - but Buffy is amused by her, aroused by her, and she reaches forward and snares Seronin's small wrist in her large, man's hand.The lo'taur is angered by this, defiant, for she is Janus' lo'taur, most trusted slave, lover. She is untouchable.No longer.It is in the incense, so heady and thick - so exotic - and Buffy breathes it in as she pushes Seronin back until she is sprawled atop the low table. The slave fights, cries out, but there is no one to hear as Buffy rips at her rich clothing, revealing smooth skin and full breasts that hitch with every panicked breath.Buffy smiles as she climbs on top of the slave, hands hard and unforgiving as they mold folds of flesh into mounds that she can devour with eager lips and sharp teeth that mark the soft skin. She slaps the slave when her cries become too grating, and then Buffy pulls at the fastenings of her pants as her need becomes unbearable.The incense is so rich and cloying, filling her throat as she closes one hand painfully tight around the inner thigh of each of Seronin's legs. With a shuddering breath, Buffy pulls the slave forward, spreading her legs wide and-
"Oh God," Buffy gasped, tearing herself free of the memory as her numb hands dropped their load into a squashed and oozing pile at her feet. "Oh God," she repeated, her hands shaking as she stumbled back, only to bump against the goa'uld who remained unmoving behind her. There was danger here - incredible danger - but Buffy couldn't shake the smell of incense, couldn't block Seronin's screams of pain and cries for help, couldn't block the feelings of triumph and dominance as she raped Seronin in the home of her master, Haremakhet's friend. God, she could still feel Seronin's skin beneath her hands, the way her flesh had tasted - a need, an arousal that was so familiar and yet so alien as she felt it from a perspective that a woman was never meant to know.
Nausea welled within her, and Buffy lifted her eyes in time to watch a hand-fashioned club swing toward her head. She had no time to move, even littler time to react, and Buffy did the only way she knew how as she instinctively raised her left arm just a little too slow, the brunt of the blow arcing off of her wrist and snapping the bone with a sharp crack that caused her to stumble back into the goon that remained standing behind her.
The pain was immediate and intense, a hot burning agony that radiated down her left arm, through her shoulder, and in a wave that flooded her torso. Buffy cried out - knew she had - but the sound was muffled beneath the thundering of her heart.
The next attack followed swiftly on the heels of the first, and Buffy wasn't any better prepared for it as the club connected with her unprotected torso with enough strength that she was lifted up and back into the goa'uld stationed behind her. Her breath was gone - a far distant friend and companion - and the agony that blossomed was so acute that darkness colored the edges of her vision.
Ribs were cracked, maybe broken, and she couldn't replace the oxygen that she had lost. Gasping, she felt her knees buckle and watched as the ground rushed up to meet her. No one slowed her descent, but by rebounding off of one of Janus' goons, her trajectory was changed from landing face down to landing face up. Her nose had been spared, but not the back of her head, and her world dimmed once more as it rebounded off of hard rock.
Then Janus' leering face was swimming dizzily before her. "That looks like it hurts," he commented, and she would have agreed with him if he hadn't of chosen that moment to straddle her with his heavy frame. Agony blossomed once more as his weight pressed against her battered ribs, and she felt her strength ebbing from cracks that she couldn't patch. "But not as much as this will," he growled - a promise that caused her heart to hammer painfully against her breast as she worked to lift hands that wouldn't respond to her increasingly frantic demands.
"No," Buffy ground out as she felt rough hands ply at her form-fitting vest, pulling it roughly away from her skin as a hot, punishing mouth descended on one breast in a way that eerily mirrored the unwanted memory she had just lived, and yet so backwards as now she was on the receiving end. There were lips that suckled until there was a new pain, one small and insignificant in comparison to that of her ribs, head, and broken wrist - except that it wasn't insignificant because this was so much worse. And then there were teeth that bit deep, broke skin, and drew blood before hands were fumbling with the fastenings of her pants.
With weak, shaking hands she tried to pull those unwanted hands away, but she was rewarded with a fierce back-hand that sent the world spinning, colored with black spots, and for the taste of blood to fill her mouth.
Gagging, gasping, reeling, Buffy resisted the allure of the darkness that lined her vision as she felt her fastenings give way, rough skin abrading her softness as thick fingers slid under the waist band and roughly worked their way between her thighs.
"No!" Buffy gasped, fear filling her as she weakly lifted her shaking hands and stretched them towards the hazy blob that defined her attacker. But then there were voices, shouting, and the sharp sizzle of electricity before the hated hands withdrew and Janus fell forward, crushing her beneath his weight.
Then there was pain, agony, as whatever was cracked became broken as darkness consumed her.O o O o O o O
When the world finally came back, Buffy's mind was fuzzy and cluttered with images, sensations, and fears that she didn't understand. There was a fiery pain in her chest that burned with each shallow breath, her left wrist felt hugely distorted and almost separate from the rest of her body, and she ached
in ways that she couldn't describe. Her head pounded, and she only remembered that her wrist was broken when she lifted it to explore the wetness that she could feel matting her hair to the back of her head. In that moment, with that fiery burst of agony, the assault came rushing back.
Whimpering softly, Buffy ignored the pain as she quickly sat up, her right hand hastily pulling at the hem of her vest and the fastenings of her pants - startled on both accounts to find her shirt back in place and her pants tightly tied. She didn't understand - couldn't
understand, for the last thing she remembered before blacking out was the feeling of someone's rough hands on the skin of her stomach, someone's hands at her pants, pressing, pushing inside of her. Someone-
Crying out, Buffy used her feet to propel her along the hot stone until her back slammed against a cave wall. Pain radiated out from her broken ribs, but Buffy blocked it as her eyes skipped past her attackers, all dead and crumpled around where she had lain, the smell of burnt skin and spilled blood filling her nose from where smoldering holes had ended their lives. They were dead, but that did little to stop the onrush of memories as she lifted her gaze to the tall figure that leaned casually against his staff weapon against an empty corridor entrance.
"Na'onak," she whispered, recognizing Bynarr's first prime instantly. He was tall and lean, skin dark and dirty, but his face, as always, remained hidden behind a mask that hung on narrow features. He was looking in her direction, and despite the immense everything
that she was feeling, she was still able to connect his staff weapon to the wounds that had stopped her attack from going any further. She was even able to take the connection one step further to deduce that not only had Na'onak stopped the attack, but he had also straightened her shirt and retied her pants before she had regained consciousness. The only real question was why.
In Netu, there was no such thing as a knight in shining armor, aside from Jack. Even those that they had become friendly with would never have stopped Janus and his goons, unless they had been planning on taking their place. This was a down-trodden, dirty place, and only the strong survived while the weak became weaker. There was no reason for Na'onak to have done what he did. No reason for him to stop-
"Haremakhet is dead," Na'onak stated. It wasn't a question, nor a demand for answers - just a statement of fact. And yet it was the familiar and unmistakable voice, no matter how impossible, that finally registered as Buffy hastily reclaimed her feet, her uninjured arm wrapping protectively around her throbbing waist.
"Apophis," she murmured, dread and wonder coloring the goa'uld's name as Bynarr's first prime nodded once in acknowledgement of her startled realization of his true identity before he turned and disappeared from sight - leaving her alone with her dead attackers. All at once, everything that had happened, everything that could have happened, and everything that had almost happened flooded her. Buffy reeled, and black spots dotted her vision as she turned and blindly fumbled for the tunnel that would bring her away from this cavern and back to the only place, to the only person with whom she could be safe.
Her senses were overloaded and her body blazed with hurt, and yet all of it seemed distant now to the fog that tried desperately to dampen the memories of those hands upon her, violating her in the most base and primal of ways. She felt dirtier than even a reality of months without bathing could inspire, and yet worse was the skittish way in which she moved, the way her eyes darted over every single person she encountered until she was half running, half staggering down one tunnel after another until she barreled into their little sanctuary.
"Hey, you're back," Jack greeted, somehow oblivious to the way her breath hitched in her chest as she caught sight of his back turned towards her. He was going through their food supply in a corner of their dwelling, his head turning only briefly towards her before he resumed his work. "Listen, I think I managed to convince Hoftan to let me in with the Tok'ra for a few minutes. Thing is, he's going to want something pretty good in return. I was going through our supplies and if you were able to get something decent on the surface... Buffy?"
Startled, Buffy raised her head towards Jack, but she couldn't see him clearly through the tears that were rapidly filling her eyes. Without thinking, she lifted her left hand to wipe them away only to be reminded of her broken wrist - her sharp cry of pain surprising them both and instantly bringing Jack to his feet.
"You're hurt!" he exclaimed, his worn features growing tight and his eyes narrowing as he crossed the distance between them in two long strides.
Gently she felt him take her hand in his, and she had to fight the reflex to pull away from his touch. The memories were still too close and vivid, she could still feel the hands-
"Damn, that's broken," Jack hissed, interrupting her thoughts and causing her to blink dazedly, clearing her teary vision as she looked up into his concerned brown eyes. "What happened?" he asked, and it was perhaps the warmth, the caring in his voice that was her undoing. Without thought, Buffy's good hand fell to the fastenings of her pants, her eyes dropping down to follow the movement and she felt, more than heard, the hitch in Jack's breath as he made whatever connection she was unable to voice. "God," he hissed, and the next hand that he laid on her shoulder was trembling - whether from shock or rage, she couldn't tell. "Buffy," he whispered again, and this time he sounded so broken. So very, very broken.
"It's okay," she whispered, finding the words buried somewhere deep down inside as she lifted her head and met his eyes. He looked shattered - even more shattered than she felt - and somehow that suddenly seemed unbearable. "It's okay," she repeated, and this time she knew that she meant it. At least, she knew that if it hadn't been okay, and even if it still wasn't okay, it would
be okay. "They didn't... he didn't. They're dead," she finally managed, and somewhere she even found a ghost of a smile. The smile didn't reach her eyes, barely twitched her lips, but it was enough as she watched as Jack somehow pulled back on his rage, on his shock, and instead fixed her with a look that was filled with something else. Something warm and comforting. Something that looked a scarily lot like love.
"Are you..." Jack began, pausing to lick his lips nervously. "Are you hurt anywhere else?" he asked, and now his hand was no longer shaking, but gently squeezing her shoulder, as though afraid touching her more would be bad. Bad like she may shatter, or bad like she would pull away.
"No - I mean, yes, I think a few ribs are cracked - maybe broken," Buffy amended distractedly as Jack's fingers ghosted down her side before tentatively pressing against her skin. Once again his touch was light and hesitant - the touch of a stranger, and suddenly that
didn't seem right. She had almost pulled away from his first touch on her skin, and with a dawning realization, Buffy saw how easy it would be to always pull away. It would be so scarily easy to associate all touches like those of Janus and his goons. To connect each touch from friend and stranger to that of the one who tried to violate her - of the one who almost succeeded in raping her. And suddenly, she didn't want that.
"Jack," Buffy whispered, his name filled with so much sudden desperation that he instinctively took a step back - taking him further from her, as though his proximity alone could add to what had been done to her. But that was the last thing that Buffy wanted - the last thing that she needed as she followed him, once more closing the distance between them. "I need... I need you to touch me," she continued, feeling the tears burn her eyes, clog her throat, but pushing past them as she met Jack's solemn expression. "I need to remember your touch, not theirs. I need to remember that it can be good, that it can be-"
"I don't want to hurt you," Jack returned, cutting her off with his words and the pain that shone in his dark eyes.
"You can't," Buffy stated, knowing it to be true. Angel had hurt her; Parker had hurt her; Riley had hurt her - but Jack. Somehow she knew that with Jack it was different. Maybe it was his age and the maturity that went with it, or maybe it was all of the darkness, pain and loss that had shaped him into the man he was, or the friends and loved ones that had buoyed him up, but whatever it was, she knew that she could trust in him. And in that moment, his gentle, careful, loving touch was the only thing that could make things right.
With that thought guiding her, Buffy used her good hand to push Jack back until he was pressed against the wall of their little cavern, her body seamlessly melded with his own. She was sure that her ribs were a mangled mess, but the pain was pushed aside as her right hand wrapped around the back of his neck and guided his lips down until they were fitted against her own. With a soft sigh she parted her lips and invited his tongue into her mouth, even as she felt his hands hesitantly slide over the smooth contour of her back and rest lightly on the curve of either hip. It was hard at first - hard to ignore the wash of fear, to drive back the need to shy away, and hard to distinguish in her mind that what just minutes ago had been loathsome, terrifying, and horrendous, was now sweet, wonderful, and not only okay, but something that had long been building between them. Something perfect.
She was a slayer, born to fight, but this assault hadn't been against the slayer; it had been against Buffy, the woman who still thrived in the darkness in which she lived. The slayer could handle the beatings and the pain of injuries, but the slayer could do nothing against the emotional impact that went with this. Buffy, however, could do something.
Buffy was strong, and Jack made her stronger.
Soon Jack's hesitation disappeared, his kisses more earnest and deep, and his hands igniting trails of fire in their wake. She felt alive - fully and truly alive for the first time in a long time. Her breaths were coming in gasps now as his mouth trailed a path from her lips to her jaw, her jaw to her neck, down lower as his hands worked their magic. She was alive and burning with warmth, desire and.... and she was burning. Really, really burning.
"Jack!" Buffy gasped, alarm trilling through her body as she instinctively clutched him tighter against her body, ignorant of the flare of pain from both her broken wrist and cracked ribs. Every nerve ending tingled and flared with an unnatural warmth that wasn't really painful so much as disturbing. "Jack!" she hissed again, adding a slap to the back of his head for good measure.
"Ow! What?" he demanded as he tried to pull back, only to find that Buffy was holding on with slayer strength now. "I said wha- ow! Buffy, too tight!" Jack grunted, and Buffy willed herself to loosen her hold as the burning intensified. Fear coursed through her veins, and her body seemed to be reacting without her permission as it clung to her only safe harbor in this strange world.
"Jack, something's wrong. I don't... I'm burning!" she stated, her voice a shade away from panicky. "I can't-" she began again before her world exploded in light. It was as though something had grabbed a hold of her at the molecular level, and she felt herself lose substance, lose cohesion, lose Jack
before she felt herself reassemble in a way that was every bit herself from her still aching head, cracked ribs, broken wrist, and overall state of nasty, dirtiness.
She was dizzy and disoriented as her eyesight cleared, as though after being exposed to a flare of sunlight, to reveal a confused jumble of colors and shapes that slowly settled into-