Pain can be harmful. It can drive a torture victim insane, it can leave scars on the mind. It can also bring on some fine hallucinations.
I was kneeling naked in the chamber, at the foot of Ailil's golden throne, but the only other being in the chamber was you. You were seated there, looking down at me with a soft smile. You stretched your bare feet gracefully toward me. Suddenly I held the cauldron of Midir in my hands, a large, shallow bowl of finely wrought and intricately decorated silver, full of warm water. I set it down and took your feet, dipping them in. Your little golden feet, with a glowing tan across each gracefully curving bridge, and white underneath and between your warm little toes...you have a child's feet, just plump enough and soft, with painted toenails and a thin gold anklet around your left ankle; a teardrop pearl dangled from it, glossy in the torch light. There were roses beside me, white ones; I pulled the petals from the blossoms and crushed them in the water, rubbing the fragrance into the tender soles of your feet, very gently. You made a little sound and I knew you were pleased. Every stroke of my fingers across your sensitive arches aroused me more; it was delicious, having those vulnerable parts of you in my hands. I slid my fingers between your toes and you gasped. I had to shift, because my arousal was growing. Literally.
"Mmmm," you crooned, arching, sliding downward in the throne. You let your thighs part, and the red silk that lay across your body began to fall away. My mouth was becoming dry. I had an idea for that.
I sipped the two littlest toes of your left foot into my mouth, and then greed got the better of me, I became ravenous to taste all of them, licking deeply between your toes, pressing the soles of your feet to my face and sucking on them. Just the thought of tickling the bottoms of your feet with my tongue was making me shiver. I looked up at you; you were staring down at my sex, which was raging by now. You sighed, "Stroke yourself for me, I want to watch you," I took it in my hand and shuddered, just holding it, looking at you as I held your foot in my other hand and nibbled across your instep. You sat up, pulling away from me, and I groaned, but you reached for me. I stood before you and you hooked an arm around my waist, pulling me foreword and licking your lips; your tongue extended, slipping along the underside of my sex as you took it deep into your mouth in one motion. Your mouth was wet, pulling firmly with heavenly heat, and I almost cried out. I was watching the generous softness of your lips closing around me as you swallowed me, over and over, and I began to shake, I was growing even harder, swelling to the aching point. You released me and licked the shaft and the tip, lavishing moisture, then you looked up at me.
"Stroke it," you said, "And wash me,"
I went back on my knees and took your hands. I pulled you up. You stood in the cauldron and the silk fell unevenly from your body, slithering to the floor. I gazed at the sweet curves of you and lost track of time, until you bent and placed my hand on my sex, coaxing my fingers around it. I dipped my other hand in the cauldron, scooping up water and petals, pouring them over your thighs and watching the shining rivulets of water run crookedly down and the delicate fragments of rose stick to you; I licked them off, chewing on the sweet-bitterness of them. You nestled both of your hands between your legs and explored with your fingers, teasing the hidden folds apart; I cupped water in my hand and held it up, pushing my palm against you and watching the droplets run down. A few drops trembled on the curls between your legs, glittering, and I waited for them to fall.
"Again," you sighed, and I obliged, but this time a rose petal clung against your sex and I had to have it. I arched my neck, reaching, and you put a hand on my forehead, stopping me. I moaned. You looked into my eyes.
"Stroke," you ordered.
I fixed my eyes on yours and gripped myself; I was still slippery from your mouth, and my hand moved easily. Your eyes wondered down and then up into mine again, your mouth was slightly open, your pink tongue poised against the tip of your upper lip. Your upper lip and chin were beginning to glisten; your breasts moved with your increasing breath, up and down. I worked myself for you, keeping my eyes on yours, showing you everything, and you began to move your own fingers between your legs. It was more than I could take. I hooked an arm around your hips and plunged my tongue into your little nest of curls, deep into that slippery, aching heat, and you cried out like a mourning dove. I explored hungrily, finally finding the rose petal and sipping it up; I slid my thumbs between your legs and pulled your petals carefully apart. I looked up at you.
"Show me, now," I said, "Show me,"
You pulled on the little mound of curls and the hood of the bud slipped back, revealing the tiny pink glans; exquisitely sensitive, swollen, exposed. I leaned foreword and felt you tremble, but you trusted me. I licked my lips and cupped them around the edges of it, not touching it directly, that would be painful; I held it within my mouth without touching it, moving my head back and forth very slightly and humming onto the flesh. I looked up to see you staring at me, open-mouthed; your nipples were hardening, a pink flush was moving over your breasts and throat. I drew back, taking your hand away so the hood slipped back over it, then I took it in my mouth and worked it between my lips, drawing on it. I continued until the muscles in your legs began to quiver, the dew seeping from you generously, and you shouted. Your hands gripped my temples and you undulated against me until it subsided. Your breath came in little hoarse gusts. You bent slightly, leaning over me as you recovered.
"What do you want?" I asked, smiling up at you. I would do anything you asked.
You leaned back, slumping into the throne again, and you grinned sweetly.
"I want you to come on my feet,"
I began to take them in my hands, but you said, "In a minute. Stand up,"
You drew me to you again and slipped your wet lips over my hardness lazily, taking me with luxurious, slow, slurping strokes of your mouth. I was hoping you would know when to release me, because I wasn't sure I could do it on my own. Just watching you was enough to make me lose my mind, but the lovingly secure suction and release, the welcoming warmth, the caresses from your tongue and your hands, were making me insane in a different way. I moaned in rhythm with you, I couldn't have stopped if I'd had to. You soon became more serious, driving your mouth deeper, rippling your tongue artfully along the underside of the shaft, clamping your lips around the ridge and pausing slightly as you moved back up, letting your upper lip tease over it, sucking harder on the head, and I began to feel the slide toward the point of no return. I was chanting your name.
You released me with a wet sound, soft as a kiss, and gazed at me. Your eyes were shining, your lips were red from the exertion and swollen, you were so beautiful that it made me dizzy.
"Do you want to?" you asked, "Or do you want to come in my mouth?"
I seized your feet in both hands and brought them to my mouth so that you fell back against the throne with a little thump; I licked them until they were slippery, then I bent your knees and brought your feet together, pressing the soles of them onto my sex. Your thighs were wide apart and you were opened, I could see everything. You sucked on two of your fingers, keeping your eyes locked on mine; you slid your fingers deep between your legs. I could see you watching me, and I could watch you caressing yourself, and I suddenly wanted it to last as long as possible...but that wouldn't be long. I couldn't help it. You were making those sounds, and before I knew it I was squeezing your feet around me and driving through them with ferocious desperation. Your fingers worked in and out of your sex and I could see them shining; I shouted, spilling pleasure over your toes and rubbing it into your arches as I thrust through them. You crooned, smiling at me; I hung my head, trembling. I swayed from the intensity of it. A scattering of pale droplets lay on your belly and one trickled down your ankle; you picked them up on your fingertips, then sucked your fingers clean. I groaned.
You giggled. "Now you have to wash them again," you said, "You got me all sticky,"
Then the hallucination was over. I felt them, and knew they were real. Wings, in the darkness. Wide, soft feathers enfolding, and a whispered purr,
"Your right shoulder has healed,"
It had. Ailil had pulled his dagger out of my shoulder to slice my liver open earlier, and the wound had almost closed. I could now reach my broadsword when I needed to. I felt a hand, then a paw, pressing below my rib cage over the gaping wound that was trying to knit. The paw vibrated, kneading the flesh, and the heat reverberated through me, waking me completely from the haze of pain.
"Victory," she whispered, "Take it now,"
Buffy put the letter down on the counter and let her head follow it. Her forehead made a thump onto the paper. She sighed. She lifted her head and looked out the window; the sun was going down. He would be waking up right now, when he was home. He would be hoping she'd climb in bed next to him. He would be dreaming about her, he'd probably be ready to pull her under the covers. It COULD happen. How was not her business. All of her most trusted friends believed the best would happen, and she couldn't betray them by not believing. Still, she was a pessimist, if only by trade. The list of horribly negative what-if's rolled through her mind.
"What's good right now?" she asked herself, out loud. A nice, thick letter. That was good. It would take her a few sessions to read. She was saving it, rationing it like she used to ration her Halloween candy. Sunset and something ugly to find and kill. That was good. And she did have to buy a new outfit soon. Also good. Meanwhile, hunting.
She found herself downtown, strolling through alleys. It was always a good place to start. Sure enough, two hungry-looking undead were creeping around, muttering to each other. They were newly made and pretty clueless, but they might know something. She followed them down a few streets and then into a dance club.
Buffy walked through the blaring club, smiling in pleasure as the heavy music vibrated through the soles of her sneakers. She'd like to stay a while and hear the mix, but she'd have to take the vampires out, quick. Maybe they knew where the Monaghan was, and it was only a couple of weeks until Angel would step off the boat.
She spotted one above, on a mezzanine. This was a nice club, actually, she thought. Post-lounge. The vamp glanced down at her and hissed, then ran.
Buffy cursed and sprang into a run, dodging the whirling, overdressed people in the crowd. She bolted up the inlaid wooden stairs, three at a time, and flew down the carpet. The vampire kept glancing back as he ran; he looked one too many times and ran directly into a pillar. He went to the floor, stunned. Buffy leaped over a table with several chattering people seated at it, who paused briefly to watch her sail over them. She landed lightly. She seized the vamp by the collar, dragged him into a narrow alcove, and staked him. As the dust settled her eyes met a young woman's incredulous stare. The woman's eyes widened and she seemed about to scream; Buffy touched her on the arm and leveled a smile at her.
"Aren't those new virtual barflies cool? I wonder how they do that?"
Buffy walked out of the alcove and straight into a drunk man, who'd been waiting for her.
"He cheating on you?" he asked, eyes gleaming with mischief.
"Not any more," said Buffy.
"So dance with me,"
Buffy looked over his shoulder and saw the other vampire trying to skulk away.
"I haven't excused you yet," he said, grabbing the front of her blouse and twisting. Buffy took his wrist in her hand and squeezed; he went to his knees, gasping.
"Get some social skills," she muttered; she sprang past him and made for the vamp in a full run. The vampire shrieked, panicking. He dove over the railing, landing on several unsuspecting dancers. Buffy saw an empty spot on the dance floor by the stairs and swung over after him. By the time she'd reached the vampire he was being carried out by a bouncer. She followed casually, throwing smiles to the doorman and the police officers outside.
"Come on, Ned," she took the vamp by the arm, "Time to go home, honey,"
"I don't know her!" the vampire cried, "She was chasing me in the club!"
"He's bi-polar," Buffy explained to the doorman, "Freaks occasionally. Baby, I think we should call the DOCTOR," she squeezed the inside of the his arm, certainly giving him a nasty bruise. The vampire drooped, defeated. She walked him around the corner, into the alley, and grasped him by the throat, smashing him against the brick wall.
"Mona-oh, dammit..." she fumbled for the name, "Monaghan! That's it...where is he?"
"What?" he gasped.
Buffy took a small cross out of her pocket, stuffed it into the vamp's mouth, and clamped his jaw shut, still keeping a firm grip on his throat with her other hand. She let him writhe for a while.
"Let's try again. Next time it's gonna be worse. Monaghan,"
She released the vampire. He tried to run, but she shoved him back against the wall. He coughed and spat, salivating. Buffy wrinkled her nose.
"Come on, I'm just going to get tired of watching you drool and stake you. You might as well fork it over,"
"The only Monaghan I know isn't a guy!"
Buffy's eyebrows went up. "Oh," she said, "I heard it was a guy. Well, that's close enough. Where is she?"
"Around...I don't know!"
"Ready for round two?" she asked sweetly, "I've always got a little holy water with me. Gotta stay hydrated,"
"She'll kill me!"
"Not if I do first,"
A scream cut through the air and Buffy glanced down the alley quickly; it was enough time for the vampire to squirm away. Then he did something weird; he pulled an object from his pocket and held it up. Buffy looked and was blinded; everything went violently white, burning white. She shook her head, cursing. The vampire was gone. She ran toward the direction of the scream, eyes darting, trying to see through a blurr, listening carefully. She slowed as she neared the street and waited, watching. The blaze began to fade from her eyes, and the world came back into focus. Nothing. She blinked a few times. She peered out of the alley. Nothing again. She'd been set up.
"Great," she said, turning toward home, "Slayer was a shmuck tonight. OW,"
she winced, putting a hand over her eyes, "My head,"