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Chapter 2

An hour passed, and Spike returned to the showing room with a small silver cell phone pressed to his ear. He found one of the slaves that he had examined had sold.

“What?… Yes, sir…” he barely looked at the still row of men. “Those are the ones? Right, hold on a sec.” Spike lowered the phone, turned to his burly host, and spoke like one who knows his requests will be followed. “He wants the one in red and the one on blue. Now can we take a better look at the males.”

The man turned and spoke a few quiet words to a near-by flunky. Spike switched his attention back to the slaves. “Pity, the biggest one’s been sold. You!” he pointed at the other dark-skinned human he’d examined. “Step out here.” The man did so, and Spike held up the little phone. There was a bright flash which caused them all to blink and one of the demons to cringe. “Okay, turn around.” He took another picture, shooed the man back into line, pushed a couple of buttons and brought the phone to his ear.

“Yes, he looks healthy. There’s another one, too. No, the third one I mentioned is gone.” Spike stepped up to Xander and repeated the photo shoot. He sent the pictures and pressed the phone to his ear again. As he chatted, he looked around the room with an undisguised air of disgust.

“I know he’s got an eye gone, but look how pretty he is…  All that hair… He’d make a nice match to the one in red you just picked out… No, they say he’s fighter grade, but reasonably well behaved…” Spike looked to his host. “Can he speak?”

The man barked at Xander, “Recite your kills!”

Xander started reeling off his impressive recorded kill list, but Spike waved him to silence before he got past two species.

The phone was back to his ear. “No, I’ve not seen to that, hold on.” Spike turned to his host who left off rolling his eyes and pulled a pleasant smile of servitude. “We need to see all of him.”

“He’s not pleasure grade, I told you.”

“I don’t care. His value is already lowered because of the eye. We’re not going to buy anything without making sure everything is in place.”

“Very well.” Xander’s eye narrowed as the tough came over to him. “Raise your arms,” he snapped. The muscles in Xander’s Africa-tanned arms bunched as he raised the heavy chains binding him. With a practiced move, the man unfastened Xander’s posing pouch and whipped it away.

Spike came over and knelt before the now-naked Xander. He snapped his fingers at a flunky and pointed at the bound slave’s crotch. Used to this sort of thing, the slim boy came over and presented Xander’s genitals to him. Spike stood and shooed the boy away. “Yes boss, they look intact.” Again he paced the small space. The host handed the pouch to the flunky who quickly redressed the tensed slave.

“Yes… yes… I agree. I will call you back shortly.” He looked over both males one more time, this time looking each of them in the eye for a brief moment. “Fine! Let us talk.”

Xander did his best to relax as Spike and the host tossed sums of money around. Spike spent all his time pointing out Xander’s flaws, and the host regaled Spike with stories of Xander’s fighting prowess and what a loss it would be to make him a decorative slave. Xander had to hide a barely-suppressed snort of laughter with a clink of chains when Spike said “Look, if my boss wants him to be nothing more than a doughnut boy, it’s not your business.” The vampire shot him a look of annoyance. More sums were bantered about and the host pulled out a cell phone of his own.

Finally, the two shook hands over a figure your average human could buy a nice house with and Spike swept from the room without a backwards glimpse.

A bright yellow ribbon was draped across his chest, and Xander was lead from the show room and to a holding pen he’d never seen.

Some four hours later, Xander, a tiny dark skinned human in a skimpy blue wrap, and a green-skinned female in a red toga were lead off the ship for the first time in months. The unshifting ground felt wrong under Xander’s feet. The human girl cried silently, and Xander just moved as directed as they were taken to a nondescript van. A muscular black man stood by with several chains at his feet. Few words were exchanged as the slave keeper removed the heavy chains from the females and the black man replaced them with lighter, but no less strong looking ones.

“Watch this one,” the keeper said when they came to Xander. “He can be tricky.”

The man just nodded. “Boss likes them to fight.” He flashed a grin at Xander which made him think he’d seen the man somewhere before. The man opened the van’s door and his fighter-trained eye took in the weakness of the man’s left leg. Was everyone in this outfit crippled? “You have to climb in your own damn self, though. I ain’t gonna help.”

Xander watched the demon girl struggle for all of three seconds before picking her up and setting her inside. She gave a startled squeak, but shot him a grateful look as she settled on a padded bench. It was forbidden for slaves to touch one another without permission, but he was willing to risk it. He helped the human, then climbed in himself. The black man came in behind him and swiftly locked all their chains to a central rail. He said nothing more, but Xander saw him give each of the girls a secretive, comforting pat on the back as he checked their chains.

Once they were all settled with the black man in the front passenger seat and on the move, Xander took a more careful look around the van. It was a standard American model, but the back had been remodeled to function as a police van. Padded benches lined both walls and welded-in poles showed evidence of wear. A heavy metal grill and a curtain separated the back from the passenger compartment. There were no windows.

As they traveled, Xander systematically checked every link in his new chain. He’d always done this and he always would. Briefly, he wondered if his sellers had shared this information. Probably not. To be honest with himself, he was surprised they’d let him live this long. After checking the chains, he sat still and thought. He’d gotten very good at that and now that he finally had new things to think about, he really threw himself into it. He ignored the two females as they huddled together, talking a little quietly, and drawing comfort from one another. Every slave knew that any situation could quickly become worse. No matter how bad, there could always be a worse. He did not share the probable identity of their buyer. Or, at least of his or her purchasing agent.

Spike. God Damn. He’d heard his one-time roommate had been mystically resurrected, then within the same month, he heard of his probable demise. Just how long had he been a captive for enough time to pass for the stubborn vamp to cycle back to life? Then again, the accent, the almost-effeminate mannerisms? Maybe it wasn’t Spike. Maybe he’d been sold into the possession of some damn rich freak who would make him stand around all day with a potted plant on his back. He’d heard such stories.

He could hear the black man talking, but if the driver was answering, he was too quiet for Xander to hear. The low volume pop music on the radio and the road noise didn’t help. Pop music. Good old American rock and roll. It had been… years?… since he’d heard any amount of it.

On to Chapter 3

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