Making it Work

 

Chapter One

 

When Buffy opened the door to Giles’ apartment a few evenings later, trailed by the vampire who’d kidnapped Willow and Xander the last time he was in Sunnydale, there was a sudden scramble to get behind furniture. Giles snatched a large cross off his desk, saying, “Buffy! Behind you!” She stopped, barely inside the door, and rolled her eyes.

 

“It’s just Spike,” she said. “I know he’s there. You need to invite him in.  Please,” she added when Giles continued to stare in horror and disbelief.

 

“Have you gone mad?  Does he have you in thrall?”

 

She sighed and glanced over her shoulder to the vampire leaning against the invisible barrier.  “I told you he’d freak.”  Spike shrugged and turned his attention to Giles.

 

“She’s just as sane as she’s ever been,” he said, snorting at Buffy’s muttered, “What’s that supposed to mean?”  “And I don’t know if I even have a thrall. Let me in, you bloody wanker.”

 

“Oh that’ll do the trick, for sure.” Buffy glared at an unrepentant Spike. “Thanks a lot.”

 

“Didn’t threaten to eat him, did I?” he retaliated. “Doesn’t seem very smart to be leaving the door wide open when anything except a friendly vampire could get in.”

 

“A friendly vampire? Since when is there such a thing as a friendly vampire? And if there was, I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be it.”  Xander spoke from the relative safety of the other side of the room.  Spike didn’t even deign to look at him, but smiled when he saw Willow staring at him with her mouth open.

 

“Hello there, Red. You’re looking good tonight.”  Oz silently slipped in front of Willow, clearly placing himself between her and the vampire.  Spike blinked, sniffed, and smiled.  “Guess the Slayer’s not the only one likes to walk on the wild—”

 

Buffy whirled, shoving him away from the still impenetrable doorway and following him outside. “I don’t walk—you… you…” Ignoring the gasps from within the apartment, she shook her head and sighed.  “This is never going to work, Spike. I’m the Slayer; Giles is my watcher. And these are my friends.”

 

“Know all that, pet,” he said, frowning. “What’s your point?”

 

“And you’re… you’re you.” She gazed at him, not trying to hide her sadness, but with firm determination in her eyes.  “I can’t do this. I can’t bring you into my watcher’s apartment, where my friends feel safe and….”

 

“Then I’ll jus’ wait out here for you.”  He pulled out his cigarettes and stuck one in his mouth, fumbling around for his lighter.

 

“No,” Buffy said, lowering her voice so they couldn’t hear her inside.  “I meant, I can’t… you can’t be… be… in my life.  It isn’t going to work.”

 

“That’s it? One little unfriendly greeting from your Scooby pals, and you suddenly don’t even want to try?”

 

“It wasn’t unfriendly, Spike. They’re terrified of you.  How the hell do I explain to them that it’s okay to let you in because when you kiss me I forget what you are?”

 

“Really? You do?” He straightened up and moved closer.  “Then just let me—”

 

“No! Stay away from me!” Buffy’s raised voice carried into the apartment and Giles appeared behind her holding out a stake.

 

“Are you not armed?” he said with a touch of dismay. “Here, take this, quickly.”

 

Buffy sighed and turned her back on Spike, causing Giles to go very pale.  He blinked hard when Spike made no move to attack her, only resting a hand on her shoulder. A hand that she seemed unfazed to find only inches from her throat.

 

“I’m fine, Giles.  I don’t need that stake, I have my own.”

 

“Then may I ask why you haven’t used it on Spike yet?”

 

“Because he… I… we…” She sighed again. “We aren’t going to kill each other, Giles. Just… either let him in so we can explain, or close the door and let me finish this conversation.”

 

In front of Giles’ horrified gaze, she leaned back slightly, showing no fear or uncertainty when Spike brought up his other hand, holding both hands on her shoulders as they waited for Giles to answer.

 

“Per… perhaps it would be best if you came in and explained why he isn’t trying to kill you, and why you…. Oh, dear Lord,” he gasped when Spike’s arms dropped and slid around her in what was clearly a loose, but not unwelcome, embrace.

 

“You’ll have to ask him in,” she said.  “If you’re still worried after you’ve heard us out—”

 

“If you’re worried about me sneaking in and eating you while you sleep, you can just do a disinvite spell. You know how to do that, don’t you, Watcher?”

 

“I do,” he said coldly, stepping back and gesturing them in.  “Come in, Spike.”

 

Spike swaggered into the room, baring his teeth at Xander in a grin that contained no humor.  More gasps and one muffled “huh” from Oz accompanied Buffy’s elbow to his ribs. Instead of retaliating, Spike just laughed and rubbed his side.  “Come on, Slayer. I’m just being me.”

 

“I thought we’d agreed that you being you probably isn’t in the best interest of a relationship?” she muttered, trying to ignore Giles’ strangled, “relationship?”

 

With a sudden change in demeanor that left the humans in the room blinking, Spike’s whole expression softened as he gazed at Buffy.  He raised one hand to her face, touching her cheek and whispering, “Is that what we have? A relationship?”

 

“Well… not… I mean… no! But if we did decide that we had one, you’d have to be nicer to my friends.  And stop scaring them!”

 

His hand dropped, but the soft expression didn’t leave his face.  “Alright, luv. I’m sorry.”  He turned to the shocked people staring at them and said, “Want you to know that I would never touch a one of you. Or anyone else the Slayer cares about.”

 

“And we’re supposed to trust you? Just like that?”

 

“Slayer does,” Spike replied, staring into Giles’s cold, disbelieving eyes and ignoring the younger people.

 

“Buffy is an excellent slayer,” Giles said. “However, she is also a very young woman, and her hormones have been known to affect her judgment—”

 

Spike’s snarl interrupted Giles before he could finish his thought, but not before everyone saw the pain and anger flash across Buffy’s face. 

 

“You owe her an apology,” Spike said, his voice low and menacing. “There’s nothing wrong with her judgment. You could question her taste in men when she was younger—” He paused when Buffy gasped indignantly, saying with an apologetic shrug, “Sorry, pet, but I think we all know what he’s talking about.”  Spike stared around the room, meeting the eyes of each person before moving on to the next.  “I’m not Angelus. Never have been anything like that pillock—in spite of his best attempts to make me so.  Got no soul to lose; not trying to pretend I’d be any different if I had one. I am who and what I am. William the Bloody.”

 

“And we’re supposed to find that reassuring?” Giles’ expression hadn’t softened, but he allowed the arm holding the stake to drop to his side. Buffy’s face was a study in confusion as she wondered where Spike was going with this.

 

“When the vamp who made his rep hunting down and fighting slayers tells you he’s going to do his best to see that this one lives long enough to watch her grandchildren grow up…” He took Buffy’s hand and raised it to his lips. He kept his eyes locked on hers, but addressed his words to Giles. “Yeah, you should find that reassuring. Not going to kill her; gonna do my best not to let anything else kill her. And I’m not plannin’ to do anything that might make her try to kill me.”

 

Buffy’s glare and accompanying “try?” had him fumbling to repair the damage. “ ‘Cept maybe imply she couldn’t do it.  Didn’t mean that, luv. Just meant I’d not give you any reason to want to.”

 

“You give me reasons to want to every time you open your mouth,” she muttered, her pride still not soothed. 

 

Giles and the Scoobies watched in disbelief as Spike whispered in her ear and brought a reluctant smile to her face. She shook her head and gave a soft laugh, saying quietly, “You’re so full of it,” as she leaned into him for a second.  Before anyone could say anything else, she straightened up and turned to face her friends.

 

“Okay, guys, here’s the sitch.  It looks like maybe there’s some reason that Spike and I haven’t killed each other yet – other than we’re pretty evenly matched and something always seems to get in the way before one of us can—” She gave herself a little shake.  “Anyway, I’ve agreed that he can stay here in Sunnydale and try to prove to me that he doesn’t want to kill me anymore.  And he isn’t going to be biting anyone else, either,” she added, as Giles started to speak. “He’s going to bag it until we see… until we see what we see.”

 

Willow’s eyes went wide.  “Maybe that’s what those old books were talking about!”

 

“Old books?” Giles frowned in her direction, causing her to blush and stammer.

 

“Uh… yeah? I was sitting here one day, all bored and stuff, so I started reading some of those old Council records.  You know, the really old ones that—”

 

“The ones clearly marked ‘For active Watchers only’?”

 

“Er… yes, those.” Willow’s chin rose and her voice became firmer.  “The point is, one of those books talked about how Slayers sometimes have a… a…” She looked at Buffy and Spike helplessly.

 

“An unnatural attraction to the very creatures they are destined to kill?” Giles said, his voice dripping sarcasm.

 

“Yeah. That. Except the book didn’t call it ‘unnatural’, it kind of indicated it was pretty… common.”

 

“Bloody hell!”

 

“What????”  Buffy whirled to glare at her watcher. “Is this one of those side-effecty things about being a slayer that you didn’t bother to share with me?”

 

“I really… there was no… Willow really should not have been going through my private collection.”

 

“Hey, hey!” Willow glared at him. “Don’t blame the messenger.”

 

Giles wiped his glasses and looked at the two very strong people staring at him with their mouths open and their eyes narrowing dangerously. 

 

“All right. In hindsight, I may have been a bit… but, with Angel having a soul, and then leaving you, it seemed best not to mention that your… affair… was not as unique as you wanted to think it was.”

 

“So, what are you saying, Watcher?  That the slayer only wants me because I’m a vampire? Any undead suiter would do her?”  Spike seemed to working on a serious pout, and Buffy rolled her eyes.

 

“Nobody said I wanted you… yet,” she pointed out. “I said you could hang around and we could… could see if it’s even possible for us to—”

 

Giles sighed and glared at Spike. He interrupted Buffy without apology.

 

“No, you git, it couldn’t be any vampire. Typically—and everyone please bear in mind that, contrary to what Willow seems to believe, it is by no means a common occurrence. In the past several hundred years there have been perhaps three or four cases where a slayer has entered into a relationship with a vampire.  In all cases, it was an older vampire, often a master, and the slayer had—” He paused and now did give Buffy an apologetic glance. “—had passed her Cruciamentum and was therefore of age.  Buffy did not meet those criteria when she was… involved… with Angel.  I tend to view their relationship as an aberration that would never have happened had he not had the soul, and had she not been so young.”

 

“Cruciamentum?”  Spike stared at Buffy, his face darkening. “He did that to you?”  He turned his head, his eyes flashing yellow and his fangs just showing behind his lips.  “You let those wankers try to kill her?”

 

Giles flinched and brought the cross up in front of his face. Spike stepped forward and batted it away.  “Something you ought to know, Watcher.” He sneered the title as if it was an obscenity.  “Those religious symbols don’t intimidate older vampires. We’ve seen too much, survived too much, to be held off by a couple of crossed sticks.”

 

“Buffy!” To his credit, Giles did not exactly scream her name, and he did snatch a stake off the table, but he was retreating behind his desk as he did so.

 

Buffy stepped in front of Spike and put her hands up.  “Down, boy,” she said with a pat on his chest. “Trust me, he’s sorry. I made him grovel for weeks.” She reached up and stroked his brow ridges until they smoothed out and his normal blue eyes were looking back at her.  “Did you think I got to be this old without having to do it?”  Her expression changed and she dropped her hand. “Or that I must not have done it because you don’t think I could possibly have lived through it?”

 

“Got all the faith in the world in you, luv.” He paused to kiss her hand and give Giles, still standing behind his desk and clutching the stake, a glare. “But I really thought your watcher had enough balls to stand up to the Council of Wankers and tell ‘em what they could do with their ‘test’.”

 

“Well, he did quit when he found out they’d set me up. Technically, he’s not a Watcher anymore.”

 

“Set you up?”

 

Buffy nodded. “Yeah, I’ll tell you about it later. The point is – it’s ancient history. I survived, Kralik didn’t, and you don’t get to be all indignant about something that happened while you were running around South America eating tourists.”

 

The look Spike sent Giles said very clearly that he wasn’t accepting Buffy’s blithe dismissal of what Giles had done to her. 

 

Ignoring the glaring vampire, Buffy turned back to Giles.  “So, this… thing… whatever it is, between Spike and me, it’s not all weird and stuff?”

 

“Apparently not,” he said stiffly. “Although, please bear in mind, the fact that it has happened before does not mean you are obligated to develop a relationship that you would rather not have.” He finished his little speech with a hopeful question in his voice, then groaned when Buffy blushed as Spike put his arms around her again, leaning down to whisper in her ear, increasing her blush. 

 

The Scoobies, silent until now, stared at Buffy and Spike for a few seconds, then broke into a babble of questions and arguments against what they were seeing. Buffy just waited, still wrapped loosely in Spike’s arms, her hands gently stroking his wrists where they crossed in front of her.  When the babble had died down and it was possible to pick out specific questions, she chose to answer Xander’s first.

 

“I do trust him, Xan. Spike has never lied to me – not about anything important, anyway. He’s already been here for a week, and he hasn’t hurt anybody. And you don’t need to worry about me giving him access to my mom’s house – I never took it away. He’s had the freedom to walk in there anytime. Ever since—” She stopped, memories of using Spike’s help to defeat Acathla, and incidentally send Angel to hell, overwhelming her momentarily.  Spike tightened his arms, offering silent support as if he understood exactly what she was thinking.

 

Willow quickly picked up on where Buffy’s mind had gone.  “What about Angel?” she asked, frowning – whether in concern for Buffy’s feelings or for Angel’s, Buffy wasn’t sure.  “Isn’t he going to—”

 

Spike growled softly as Buffy removed his hands and slid out of his embrace.  She didn’t step away, though, holding his hands down at her sides.

 

“I don’t see any reason why Angel needs to know anything about this right now,” she said clearly.  “Spike and me… we… we’re just going to see where this goes. Maybe… maybe it won’t go anywhere…” She squeezed his hands gently when she felt another rumble in his chest.  “Maybe it’ll turn out that we don’t really like each other very much, and this is all just… physical stuff.” Buffy’s face was suffused with color as she stumbled over how to describe her newly-discovered craving for Spike’s kisses.  “I mean, up until just a couple of days ago, I thought I hated him and he hated me.  All we’re doing is giving it some time.”

 

“And what are we supposed to do in the meantime? While he’s out munching on the population?”

 

“Xander, I already told you, he’s bagging it while he’s here.  You don’t have to do anything except promise not to try to stake him.”

 

She gave her best male friend a hard stare, a silent reminder that she knew of his betrayal when she’d gone to face Angelus. She’d forgiven him, knowing that she probably would have hesitated to kill Angelus when given the chance if she’d known that Willow was working on restoring his soul.  However, the opportunity to kill him hadn’t presented itself until it was too late to stop; and knowing that she’d actually sent Angel to hell in order to save the world should have put to rest any doubts anyone had over her willingness to do her job.

 

Ignoring the various unsupportive faces in the room, Buffy continued with as much confidence as she should muster, “So, if we’re all good here, Spike and I are going out to find that blonde bitch and her gang of drop-outs and get my stuff back.”

 

The reminder of how Sunday had sent Buffy running and then emptied out her dorm room caused Giles to stand up straighter. “And where was William the Bloody when you got hurt?” he asked.  “For all you know, he was charged with keeping you busy while they looted your room.”

 

Buffy started to speak, but Spike stopped her with a hand on her arm. The expression on his face was a mixture of shame and fury.  “Had every intention of spending the next few days teaching that bint what it means to brass off a master vampire,” he growled. “But the Slayer wants to do it herself, so I’m respecting her wishes. I’m going to be there for the show, this time. She’s not getting’ over being sick now, and it’ll be a fair fight if I have to dust every minion myself.”

 

“Buffy, you do realize he is speaking of torture, do you not?”

 

She sighed and nodded. “Yes, Giles. In case you forgot, that skanky bitch almost broke my arm and then stole my stuff. And she’s a vamp. Pardon me if I don’t look too shocked or worried about what Spike wants to do to her.” She poked the vampire as she turned back toward the door.  “But, just so you know, she is mine. You got that?”

 

She waved at Giles and her gaping friends, then grabbed the door and pushed Spike out in front of her.  As soon as it had shut behind them, she whirled on Spike.

 

“If you were smart, you’d kiss me right now before I decide this is going to be more trouble than it’s worth!”

 

“Could never refuse a sweet invitation like that,” he said, pulling her against his body and biting her lower lip.  He fastened his mouth on hers, caressing her with his lips until hers parted to let his tongue in.  When Buffy had been thoroughly reminded that the former irritating bane of her existence could kiss her into a whimpering ball of hormones, they separated enough for Buffy to rest her head on his chest and gasp for air. 

 

When he went to pull her in again, she put her hands on his chest and pushed gently. “Let’s not rush this, huh? I want to be sure before I… we….  Patience, okay?”

 

He snorted. “You do remember who you’re talking to, don’t you, Slayer?”

 

“Oh yeah. The vamp that was going to kill me on Saturday, but showed up on Wednesday. I forgot. Patience – not your thing.”

 

“Not even close to being my thing,” he growled, reaching for her again. He snarled when she danced away from him, shaking her finger in his face.

 

“Uh, uh. Behave yourself. I have skanky vampire ass to kick. You can come along and help me find her, or you can go do… “ She waved her hand around vaguely. “… whatever it is you’re going to do while you’re here and not with me.”

 

“The whole point of being here in this hell-hole, is to be with you.” He adjusted himself with more action than necessary, laughing when she blushed. “So, let’s go find this gang of vamps that’s interfering with my love life.”

 

Chapter Two

 

Spike watched from the couch as Buffy kicked Sunday and her gang around the room, sneering the entire time about “skanky, stuff-stealing, bleached blonde bloodsuckers”. He never moved, except to applaud a particularly good quip, or wince at a slayer kick that went somewhere extra painful.  When there was nothing left but dust, he stood up and clapped. Not the sarcastic slow claps of his first sight of her fighting, but genuine appreciation for her work.

 

“Looks like you’re all back up to snuff,” he said. “Not hurt anymore?”

 

She shook her head. “Nah. A good night’s sleep and my slayer healing fixed my arm right up.  And making a dust bunny out of that snotty bitch just made my day. I feel great!” She threw her arms out and jumped at him. Vampire-quick reactions allowed him to catch her and pull her against his body as she wound her arms around his neck and wrapped her legs around his waist.

 

“You feel bloody wonderful,” he said, nuzzling the side of her neck. “And you smell even better….”

 

“I’m all sweaty,” she protested feebly as she turned her head to give him better access.

 

“You’re also turned on,” he breathed against her ear.  “Think I can’t tell what fighting does to you?”

 

“Wait! What? What do you mean… how do you… oh….”

 

“Does the same thing to me, love,” he murmured, his hands cupping her ass and holding her against him. “Every time I fight you, every time I watch you fight… It’s a wonder you didn’t kill me one of those times I couldn’t walk well enough to get out of your way.”

 

Buffy giggled, sliding down and rubbing herself against him, eliciting a heartfelt groan.  “Really? All that time I could have just….” She fastened her mouth on his, falling quickly into the kisses that made the world and everything in it fade into unimportance. Between the kissing and the pressure against her clit, Buffy was somewhere between fainting and having an orgasm when they were interrupted by noise from outside.

 

Still dizzy from unsatisfied lust, and not happy about the interruption, Buffy allowed Spike to put her down on the floor. He fell into place on her left while she retrieved her stake and waited to see what was coming into the empty vamp nest.

 

The squad of ninja-like soldiers that burst through the door was not what either one had expected.

 

“Buffy?”

 

“Riley?”

 

They stared at each other, Buffy taking in the commando uniforms, Riley frowning at the stake in her hand.

 

“What are you doing here?” they exclaimed simultaneously.

 

“You first,” Riley said, eyeing Spike with suspicion. Spike glowered back at the much larger man.

 

“I had a… a little problem with one of the people living here,” Buffy said, tucking her stake behind her back.  “I just came by to… talk to her about it, and to get my stuff back.”  She began picking up the things Sunday had taken from her dorm room, gesturing at Spike to grab the rest.  As soon as they’d picked up everything that hadn’t been ruined, Buffy pushed Spike toward the door, saying, “Nice to see you, Riley.  See you tomorrow in class!” She pushed Spike the rest of the way out and hissed, “Let’s get out of here.”

 

“Buffy!” Riley called after her.  “Where are the… people… who were living here?”

 

“Oh, I think they must have moved out in a hurry. They left a lot of dust behind.”  Glaring at Spike’s snicker, but giggling in spite of herself, she began to jog, anxious to get away before it occurred to any of the men staring around the empty room to follow her.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Uh, Finn?” Graham tried to get Riley’s attention while frowning at the device in his hand.

 

“What?” Riley’s response was barely audible as he stared at the door through which Buffy had disappeared.  He only noticed what Graham was saying when the man repeated himself in a louder voice.

 

“I said I only recorded one heat signature in here.  One of them was only room temperature, and I’m guessing it wasn’t the one holding the stake.”

 

“You saw that, huh?  I was hoping maybe I imagined it.”

 

“We all saw it. Your little co-ed crush was standing in a room full of vamp dust, holding a stake; and unless something’s wrong with the equipment, the Billy Idol wannabe with her is a hostile.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

When they felt they were safely away from the commandos, they slowed down and began the walk toward Buffy’s dorm.

 

“What the hell was that – the ghostbuster squad?”

 

“I’m not sure. That’s the second time I’ve seen them around the campus at night. And the second time they’ve almost caught me slaying.  I didn’t know Riley was one of them, though.”

 

“And who or what is a ‘Riley’ when he’s not playing ninja soldier?”

 

“Oh, he’s the TA in my psych class. Willow thinks he likes me, but I’m pretty sure he just thinks I’m an idiot who falls asleep in class and wanders around by herself too much at night.”

 

Spike gave a low growl and Buffy glanced at him from the sides of her eyes.  “What?”

 

“Nothing. Just the demon responding to the idea of another man thinking he—”

 

“What does your demon have to do with anything?”

 

Spike stared at her. “Everything, love. He’s… it’s… part of me. Part of who and what I am. Come on, Slayer. You’ve got to know this.”

 

Buffy was silent as they entered the dorm and carried her belongings back to her room.  Spike sprawled on the bed while she wandered around putting things away.  Having remained quiet as long as he could, he finally said, “Slayer? Buffy?”

 

She raised bleak eyes to his, causing him to rise and cross the room to where she was standing, parasol in hand.  “What’s wrong, luv?”

 

“Is that what not having a soul means? That your demon is always there?”

 

He frowned at her.  “Demon’s there no matter what. Won’t be gone till I’m dust.  A soul might make him a mite unhappy, but it wouldn’t make him vanish. Can’t. He’s always there. It’s what keeps me alive – so to speak.”

 

“But Angel—”

 

He snarled and whirled away from her.  “Should have known that was coming.  Angelus – the bane of my existence.”

 

“When he has his soul, the demon—”

 

“When the bugger has his soul, he feels guilty.  So he keeps the demon in check. That’s all. Without it, the demon has nothing to rein it in and the true Angelus comes out.”

 

“But you….”

 

“I control my demon, Slayer. It doesn’t control me.  Don’t need an artificial conscience to keep it in line. I know right from wrong—and so does Angelus. We just don’t care.  Or, I didn’t care; not until now.”

 

He turned back and put his hands on her shoulders. “You can’t be my soul, Buffy, but you can be my conscience.  Not saying I won’t make mistakes. It’s been a long time since I let the lessons my mother taught me control my actions. Went out of my way to be the opposite of what I was raised, once I got turned. The freedom was…  freeing.”

 

“Then how…?”

 

“You’ll be here. To tell me if I’m making a mistake. To remind me what’s right and wrong.”  He frowned at her. “Not to say I’m gonna turn into some sort of goody-two-shoes, mind you. A vamp’s got to have some vices… But with your help, I can maybe keep from making any big mistakes.”  He smoothed her hair and his eyes softened even more. “I want to make this work, Slayer. If it doesn’t, and I have to leave, I want to know that we gave it our best shot.”

 

The confusion in Buffy’s eyes was painful to see. “I don’t understand…” She stared at Spike as if she could find the answer written on his face.  “How can you… And Ange-Angelus couldn’t… He hated me!”

 

“He hated that you’d made him love you,” Spike said. “And all those years of living with the soul… I think his demon might have gone a bit barmy.  Not that Angelus wasn’t always a right bastard,” he hastened to add. “But he was even more twisted once you—once the soul went away.”

 

“You can say it,” Buffy said, turning away from his entirely too sympathetic eyes.  “Once I made him lose his soul. Go me.  And then he didn’t even love me anymore.”

 

“Angelus never ‘loved’ anybody, pet.  He’s got a sense of family, I’ll give him that, but the only person he really cares about is Angelus.” Spike blew out a breath and mumbled, “I hope I don’t regret sayin’ this…” Speaking a bit louder he said, “You made him so happy, he lost the bloody soul that makes him so special to you. He loved you. Trust me. It’s just, the demon twisted it into something obsessive once it didn’t have the soul to keep it in check.  You were still special to him… just not in a way that was likely to make you very happy. Or safe,” he added watching her as she wrapped her arms around herself and kept her back to him.

 

“But I’m safe with you – and you don’t love me.” She whirled around, blinking back tears. “I don’t understand. It doesn’t make sense!”

 

Spike growled low in his throat, then threw himself down on her bed.  He stared at the ceiling for several seconds, then sighed and sat up, motioning her closer. 

“If I tell you something, will you promise not to remember it or think about it when you’re slaying?”

 

“I guess—what…?”

 

“Demons are just like anybody else, pet. Some are bad, some are good – more bad than good, I’ll admit, but there are some of both.  Remind me to take you around one night and introduce you to some harmless demons so you don’t go accidently slaying somebody you’ll wish you hadn’t.”

 

“You think I’ve slayed good demons?”

 

“Dunno, love. I’m just saying… Sunnyhell is full of demons doing jobs that a human wouldn’t last ten minutes at.  Who do you think makes the late-night pizza deliveries, or works down in the sewer tunnels when something needs fixing?”

 

Buffy’s eyes grew wide as she thought about all the times she’d handed money to a delivery boy, wondering what he was so obviously terrified of and worried that she needed to escort him safely back to his car.

 

“Oh my God. I never even… that makes sense, I guess. But it’s not like I go around looking for funny-looking delivery people, or prowling the sewers unless I’m chasing something. What’s that got to do with slaying vamps? 

 

“Because it includes vamps, pet.  Not many, and you aren’t likely to come across them, but even some vamps have demons that don’t crave the bloodshed.”

 

“So, what happens to them? Do they starve to death before I can stake them?”

 

“No. They do what you want me to do – what the poof does – they bag it. Or they—never mind, you don’t need to know about that. All you need to know is that all those Sunnydale butchers that have fresh blood to go aren’t there just because your ex ate a lot. They have other customers. Vamps and demons.”

 

“Oh.” Buffy sank down beside him, frowning. “But they don’t have souls?”

 

He rolled his eyes and flopped back on the bed with a growl. “My bloody grandsire needs a soul, because without it, he’s an evil version of the wanker he was as a human.”  He turned his head to the side to look at her. “Not all of us were as selfish and amoral as Liam O’Connor was before Darla found him and made him her—Made him what he became.”

 

“But you… you aren’t exactly famous for your sweet, gentle disposition,” Buffy said. “You were just as bad as he was. And Dru…”

 

“I’m what they made me, pet. Won’t deny it. And I’m not sorry about it. The baddest of the bad. William the Bloody.” His mouth twisted as he said it and Buffy wasn’t sure she hadn’t seen a flash of pain go across his face.  “But William Pr—the man I used to be is still in here.” Spike touched his chest, then took Buffy’s hand and rested it on it.  “He’s in here. Doesn’t have his soul any more, and he isn’t the wimpy pushover he was at one time, but he’s here.  And he’s just as big a fool about lo—he’s just as stupid about women as he ever was.”

 

“So, this,” Buffy gestured back and forth between them. “You think it’s stupid?”

 

“Don’t know yet, do I?” he said, tugging her down to lie beside him. “I can tell you this is the first time ol’ William picked someone worthy to….” He stopped and cleared his throat. “Think I might have made a better choice this time.”

 

Buffy allowed him to keep his arm around her, and she rested her head on his chest, but her body was rigid.  When several minutes had gone by and he had done nothing else but stroke her hair, she gradually relaxed and brought her own arm across his chest, resting it there.

 

“You’re assuming we have a choice,” she said. 

 

“There’s always a choice, Slayer. Jus’ because it’s not as impossible as we thought, doesn’t mean we have to do it.  It just means I can stop worrying I’ve lost my mind ‘cause I can’t stop thinking about you.”

 

“And I can stop feeling like some kind of freak because I…”

 

She let her voice trail off as she snuggled a little nearer, just barely stopping herself from throwing one leg over the muscular thigh she was pressed against.  Almost against her will, the hand resting on his chest began a gentle stroking motion, exploring the muscles and sinew covered by his tight tee shirt.

There was a soft vibration under her hand that she soon identified as a contented sound.

 

“Are you purring?”

 

“Don’t be daft!” he said, the vibration stopping immediately. “Kittens purr. I was just… humming.”

 

“Humming.”

 

“Yes. You know, hum, hum, de hum…”

 

She giggled. “Oh yeah. Humming.”  She giggled again.

 

“Are you mocking me, Slayer?” he growled, wrapping his arms around her and rolling over on top of her.  He buried his face in the side of her neck, still mock-growling and pretending to bite her with his blunt human teeth.

 

Rather than react as her body wanted to, with a violent spasm that would throw him away from her throat, she let herself lie still and enjoy the way it felt to have that strong body pressed against hers from head to toe.  She even turned her head to the side to allow him better access to her neck, which he was now running his lips over and nipping lightly at the skin under them.  His tongue tickled her throat as he licked his way from one side to the other.  

 

Buffy’s breath was getting shorter and she was unconsciously beginning to move under him until he reached the other side of her neck and ran up against the scars left there.  He flinched back with a snarl, glaring down at her startled face.

 

“What the bloody hell…?”

 

Trying to mask the shame she felt, Buffy bristled back at him.  “What? Like you’ve never been bitten?”

 

He relaxed and rested his forehead against hers. “I’m sorry, luv. I just forgot about those scars for a second. Demon over-reacted.”

 

Buffy bit her lip and shifted her eyes away from his.  “Is it ugly? Does my neck look like a vamp chew toy?”

 

“Ah, no, Buffy.  I didn’t mean that. Just surprised me, is all. You couldn’t be ugly if you tried, Slayer.  They’re just scars, barely noticeable to anyone but another vampire, I’d wager.” 

 

He kissed her closed eyelids and her face, working his way to her mouth and kissing it persistently until her own lips softened and began to respond to him.  Within minutes, their tongues had joined and the marks on Buffy’s neck were well on their way to being forgotten. Kisses that had made Buffy’s knees weak when she was standing up, had a totally different effect when she was lying down with Spike’s body pressing hers into bed. Her legs went around his thighs, and she clutched their lower bodies together with a grip that he couldn’t have broken if he’d wanted to.

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 

The hard bulge in his jeans pressed between her thighs, and she was soon rubbing herself against it, whimpering in her throat as the sensations interrupted earlier in the evening came back.  Spike’s attempts to get her to wait for him to get their clothes off went unheeded as she worked herself against him until she was muffling a cry, biting his shoulder and shuddering all over.  When her body stopped quaking, she buried her flaming face in his neck refusing to respond to his chuckling attempts to get her to look at him.

 

When his chuckles turned to pleas for her to talk to him, and she could feel the proof of his need still nestled against her, she finally raised her head and gave him an embarrassed smile.  “Well, now we can add ‘selfish ho’ to ‘vamp chew toy’, I guess.  I’m sorry, Spike.”

 

He rolled over, pulling her with him so that she was lying on him and free to move away if she wanted to.  He lifted one hand and pushed her hair out of her face. “We can add incredibly responsive, passionate woman to battle-scarred warrior,” he corrected. “And if you think getting yourself off on me is something you need to apologize for…” He snorted and ran the hand down her cheek.  “You and me are going to have a lot of fun getting to know each other.”

 

Buffy gave a shaky laugh and sat up, straddling the hips that pushed up against her even as the hands on her waist held her gently in place.  “I’d kinda planned on maybe getting to know each other better before we were getting anybody off anywhere,” she said, blushing at the admiring look on his face.

 

Before he could respond, the door burst open and Willow and Oz tumbled into the room, followed by Giles and Xander.  With a startled “eep!” Buffy rolled off the bed, landing with a thump. Spike came up on his elbows and glared at the humans staring at them.  “This better be good,” he muttered, bring one knee up in an attempt to hide the way his cock was pressing against his zipper. “Or somebody’s going to die.”

 

“Not funny, Spike,” Buffy said, running a hand through her hair in an attempt to look less like she’d just been ravished.  “What’s up, guys?”

 

“You’re all right,” Giles said, somewhat unnecessarily.

 

“I am. Was there some reason you thought I wouldn’t be?”  She remained on the floor, pretending she’d been sitting there all along, as if she had no idea they’d come into the room in time to see her diving off Spike’s body – which was still sprawled across her bed.

 

Willow looked around, but when no one else spoke up, she said, “I got the weirdest phone call from Riley.  He said… well, he was trying to say that you were with a vampire, except that he kept saying ‘hostile’ and ‘sub terrestrial’ and it took me a while to figure out he meant Spike.”

 

“Still not getting the why everybody came crashing into my room,” she grumbled, standing up and pushing Spike over so she could sit on the bed. “Riley saw us tonight, right after I dusted that nest. I was sorta hoping he didn’t know that Spike—”

 

“Who is this “Riley” person? And why was he there?” Giles’s didn’t try to keep the worry from his voice.

 

“Oh, he’s one of those commandoes we’re been wondering about. And I think they were there for the same reason I was, except that there was nothing to see but dust by the time they came in.”

 

“And when were you planning to tell me you knew one of these men?” Giles asked stiffly, earning a small growl from Spike.

 

“Tomorrow,” Buffy snapped back. “You know, after I got a night’s sleep, went to my classes, and did some other stuff that’s more important than telling you one of the ninja-guys is our psych TA.  It’s not like he’s going anywhere, or like we can do anything about it tonight.”

 

“Still doesn’t explain what you’re all doing here,” Spike grumbled, sitting up beside Buffy. The looks on Giles’s and Xander’s faces made him very grateful that he and Buffy had both been fully clothed when the group burst in. He began weighing his options for getting out of the room in one piece past an experienced Watcher and the boy he usually dismissed as pathetic. Without ruining his chances with Buffy, who would undoubtedly take it amiss if he killed or maimed either of them…

 

“We were afraid Riley was on his way here,” Willow said. “And we didn’t want him to catch Buffy with… weapons… or something….”

 

“Or something.” Spike’s sneer including all four of the humans staring at him. “That would be me, I’m guessin’.”

 

Giles spoke stiffly. “It would not be in Buffy’s best interest to be seen again in the company of something that these men clearly understand to be non-human and dangerous.  Even if she has to explain about being a slayer, there is no reason for her to let them know she has a… friendship—” Spike’s scoff interrupted Giles’s stumbling attempt to put a name on the obvious attraction between Buffy and William the Bloody.

 

Buffy’s hand on his silenced Spike more easily than words could have; he subsided, leaning back on his elbows again and waiting for her to speak. She looked at him as she said, “Giles has a point, Spike. We don’t know anything about these guys yet, except that they know about vamps and demons.”  She gave him a pleading smile.  “I’ll be able to find out more about them if they don’t have any reason to think I’m something… something I’m not.”

 

To everyone’s surprise, he nodded before sitting up, kissing her forehead, and getting to his feet. “You’re right, pet. Whatever they are, I’m guessing it’s not friendly to vamps. I don’t want them thinkin’ you’re one of their ‘hostiles’.”  He stretched and looked at the staring Scoobies.  “What? I’m going.  That’s what you came here for, isn’t it? To get me away from the Slayer before she gets so covered in vampire cooties the soldiers can’t tell how good she is?”

 

“Exactly,” Giles said, staring pointedly at the door.

 

“Where will you go?” Buffy’s anxious question brought the attention back to her, and his expression softened to the warm smile she was still trying to get used to.

 

“Dunno yet. Found myself a decent crypt a couple of days ago. I guess I’ll stay there.  It’s got a lower level and a bunch of old sarcophagi, so plenty of hiding places if I need them. And double doors.”

 

“Okay. First thing tomorrow, I’m going to find out what the hell is going on with these guys…” She glanced at Willow. “Now that I think about it, all those guys at the frat party….” Willow nodded vigorously.

 

“Oh my God, yes!  They were all big and buff and had those short haircuts, and…. We were there! Right at the same party.  With the mysterious commando- guys.”

 

Buffy nodded her agreement. “I guess it’s time to test your theory about Riley and me,” she said to Willow.  “I can only think of one quick way to get to know more about him….” Behind her she felt, rather than heard, the rumble from Spike’s chest as he figured out what she was planning.  Before the rumble could erupt into a full-blown snarl, she hustled her friends to the door.  “Okay, thanks, guys. Now I’ll know what to watch for and so will Spike.”

 

“Shouldn’t he be leaving with us?” Xander planted himself stubbornly in the doorway, refusing to budge while he exchanged glares with the vampire.

 

“I have to… I need to explain something to Spike. Then he’ll leave. It’ll be okay. It’s getting really late, I doubt they’re out there watching my dorm. He’ll be fine.”

 

“I wasn’t worried about Captain Peroxide,” Xander said, still not moving. “I just don’t want them catching you with him again.”

 

“I appreciate that, Xander,” Buffy said, her teeth beginning to clench. “But I have to talk to Spike… privately… before he goes. So the longer you stand there, the longer it’ll be before he leaves.”

 

With a final glare at the vampire, whose eyes were flashing yellow, Xander allowed himself to be hustled out the door.  Buffy turned to look at Spike, now in full game face. 

 

“Are you going to listen to what I have to say, or are you just going to go all  ‘stupid guy’ on me?”

 

“If by ‘stupid guy’ you mean am I going tell you that you will snuggle up to that lummox for information over my dusty body, then, hell yes. I’m going to be so bloody stupid you’ll be wishing you’d kept that stake handy.”

 

“I have to find out what they are!” she argued before she remembered where she was. Lowering her voice, but not changing her tone, she said,  “And hanging out with Riley is going to be the easiest way to do that. What don’t you get about that? It’s my job, Spike. It’s who I am.”

 

“The Slayer’s job is to dust vamps and behead demons. Nothing in that handbook that you’ve obviously never read is about going undercover to spy on a bunch of wannabe commandos.”

 

“They’re in my town, and they’re hunting vampires on my turf.  How is that not my business? Huh? How, Spike?” She advanced on him, pushing against his chest with each question, ignoring the snarls that were increasing in volume and frequency.

 

“And what are you going to do if they decide that a slip of a girl who is stronger than any of them and who hangs out with a vampire could be a ‘hostile’?”

 

“Then they’ll find out exactly how much stronger I really am,” she said, turning her back and walking to the bed to take off her shoes.  “I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal out of this,” she said, glancing up at him. “It’s not like I’m going to jump into bed with him or something.  I’m just going to get to know him a little bit outside of class and see what he’ll tell me.”

 

She threw her shoes across the room, barely missing Spike.  “You’re the one who needs to keep a low profile. Obviously they could tell what you are. They might be looking for you.”

 

“I hope they find me,” he said, his intent clear.

 

“I don’t,” Buffy said, her voice softer and less challenging. “I don’t want them to find you. Not until I know more about them and why they’re here.” When there was no response from Spike, except to shake off his vampire mien, she continued, “I won’t be able to do my job if I’m worried about you all the time. I need for you to promise me you’ll hole up somewhere and stay there until I know what’s what.”

 

“I don’t do ‘hole up and hide’ very well, Slayer.”

 

“I don’t do ‘losing someone I care about’ very well, either.”

 

They stared at each other from opposite sides of the room until Spike sighed and nodded.  “Alright, luv. I’ll stock up on blood and stay in my crypt for a few days.  But if I don’t hear from you every bloody night….”

 

“I’ll check in. I promise.  Where will you be?”

 

Spike grabbed a sheet of paper off her desk and began to sketch a crude map. “It’s in the old part of Restfield,” he said, drawing quickly.  “Got a name over the door, but I wasn’t paying any attention to who the former owners were, so I don’t know what it says.  But you shouldn’t have any trouble finding it.”

 

He set the map down on the desk and sighed again.  “Guess I’d best be on my way if I’m going to stop by the butcher’s and get home before daylight. I’ll see you tomorrow, luv.”

 

Buffy looked puzzled and hurt as he turned to open the door.  “No goodnight kiss?”

 

He laughed softly, shaking his head.  “You know as well as I do, pet, if I go over there and start kissing you, I’ll never leave.  Be stuck here all day tomorrow, trying to keep the sun coming in those windows from frying me.”

 

“Good point,” she admitted with a wistful smile.  “Okay. Goodnight, then.  See you tomorrow.”

 

“Goodnight, Buffy. Be careful.”

 

“You too. Don’t get dusty.”

 

Chapter Four

 

Buffy’s plan to get to know Riley better didn’t go as well as she’d hoped. While he gave her his usual friendly smile when she entered the large lecture hall, he made no attempt to speak to her.  She and Willow dawdled as long as they could without seeming to be doing it deliberately, but they finally had to give up and get out before the next class came in.

 

“Well, so much for liking me,” Buffy sniffed, when Riley followed Doctor Walsh out of the hall.

 

“In all fairness to Riley,” Willow said, watching them go, “She’s pretty scary. He probably doesn’t want to make her mad.”

 

“Hey, I’m pretty scary too.”

 

“Yeah. But he doesn’t know that yet.  And I thought we didn’t want him to know that much about you.”

 

“I don’t,” Buffy sighed. “But I really wanted to—look!”

 

Willow turned around and followed Buffy’s gaze.  Another grad student, one they recognized from the party at Lowell House, had just saluted Riley and Dr. Walsh, who was now clearly chastising him for doing so.  Head down, the other man was obviously apologizing, and having a hard time doing so without standing at attention and saluting.

 

“Guess we were right about those guys at Lowell House,” Willow whispered, trying to smother her giggle.

 

“I guess so. The question now is, are they going to have another party, and will we be invited to it?”

 

“We?”

 

“Um… yeah? I mean, Oz would cool with it, wouldn’t he? It’s all about the research and stuff.”

 

As if having heard their conversation, Riley began striding in their direction, smiling at Buffy as he did so.  He gave Willow a friendly nod, but never took his eyes off Buffy.

 

“Hey! I’m glad I found you.”

 

Buffy looked at Willow. “Were we lost?”

 

“I would have sworn we were in class all morning, but hey, maybe I was dreaming.”

 

Both girls turned their best “we’re ditzy” smiles on the frowning man and giggled.

 

“Sorry, Riley,” Buffy finally said. “We’re a little giddy today.  What did you need us for?”

 

“Um, well, I just… of course, you’re included, Willow… I just wanted to invite you to the frat house tomorrow night to… um… to meet my friends.”

 

Buffy’s eyes narrowed, but his open, honest face seemed so earnest that she relaxed.  “That sounds like fun. Is it another party already?”

 

“Well, yes, sort of, I guess.  Maybe not as big as the last one, but… it’ll be fun.”

 

“Okay. Sure. See you tomorrow night, then.”

 

The girls waved and walked away, carefully not speaking until they were well away from both Riley and the campus. By mutual agreement, they went to Giles’s apartment and tried the door. Which was locked. Buffy glared at the doorknob is if it had personally offended her, then sighed and sat on the nearby wall.

 

“So, what do you think? Did he hear us?”

 

“Only if he was using some kind of listening device. He was too far away for normal human ears.”

 

“Great. So while we’re checking them out, they’re going to be checking us out.”

 

“I don’t think it’s ‘us’ he’s interested in,” Willow said. “He was looking at you the whole time.  What do you think he saw the other night?”

 

“Me, with a stake in my hand, Spike, and a lot of dust where they obviously expected to find vamps.”

 

“So, he didn’t actually see you slaying?”

 

“No, but since there was only one vampire standing, I don’t think it would take a genius to figure out what I was doing there.  And then, there’s Spike. Somehow they knew what he was… or figured it out after we left.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Buffy repeated her explanation later that evening when all the Scoobies were together again.

 

“Sounds to me like they must have lots of cool toys,” Xander said, somewhat wistfully.  “All that commando gear, ninja suits….”

 

“Maybe they should be recruiting you” Buffy said with a sigh. “You’d know how to appreciate all their… stuff.”

 

“Is that what you think they want to do? Recruit you?”

 

“Well, yeah. What else would they want with me? If they’re after vampires and demons, wouldn’t they want the Slayer on their side?”

 

“Assuming they have any idea that there is such a person,” Giles said with a wry smile. “And that they don’t just think you’re some new kind of demon that hunts vampires.”

 

“Huh! You and Spike must belong to the same club of suspicious people,” Buffy muttered.

 

“And what does William the Bloody think of this plan to go into the lion’s den, so to speak?”

 

Buffy coughed. “I haven’t actually… mentioned it yet.  And I might not mention it. He’s just going to be unreasonable about it.  I’m pretty sure…”

 

“Unreasonable?”

 

“Yeah. He was all stupid and mad about it last night.  But I think he was mostly just jealous that I might be dating Riley—even though I told him it would just be for information.”

 

“So, you’re going to begin your—and you have no idea how much I detest using this word—relationship with Spike by lying to him about what you’re doing.”

 

Buffy’s lip came out in one of her stubborn expressions. “It sounds so… wrong… when you say it like that.”

 

“He has a right to know.” The quiet interjection from normally tacturn Oz silenced the whole room for several seconds while everyone stared at him.

 

“But he’s going to be all grrrrr, argh about it,” she protested with less vehemence than she’d intended. “And then we’ll end up having a fight instead of… ” Her voice trailed off as everyone looked at her with varying degrees of curiosity, concern and disgust.  “Instead of anything else,” she finished weakly.

 

“I’m just saying.” Oz subsided onto the couch and put his arm around Willow.

 

Buffy looked around the room at the unsupportive expressions and sighed. “Fine. I’ll tell him.  But if I end up staking him instead of having smoochies, it’s all your faults!”

 

“I can live with that,” Xander said so quickly she gave him a glare that promised retribution if it actually happened.

 

Buffy stood up and walked to the door.  “Okay. I’m off to let Spike know I’m okay. He said if I don’t check in every night he’s… well, I don’t know what he’s planning to do, but it’s getting late, so I’d better get there before he comes looking for me.” She waved at Willow.  “I’ll see you tomorrow, Will, and we’ll figure out what we want to wear to the party.”

 

Wanting to avoid the confrontation with Spike as long as possible, Buffy decided to make a pass through a couple of cemeteries first.  The first one was empty, the second one had only one confused-looking fledgling standing around looking helpless. 

 

“What happened to me?” he said. “What am I?” He stared at Buffy, his fangs beginning to come down as his demon recognized the scent of food.

 

“You’re dead,” she said helpfully.  “But you need to be deader.” Without further quipping, she ran her stake into his chest and watched the dust fall away. She turned to walk away, flinching as she felt something hit her back. She whirled, stake at the ready, but there was nothing visible and nothing making her demon radar go off.  She shrugged off the tiny pinch and headed for Restfield.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Finding Spike’s crypt wasn’t difficult. He was standing in front of it, game face on and yelling as soon as she came into sight.

 

“Where the bloody hell have you been, Slayer?” he roared, rushing up to her, clearly conflicted about whether to hug her or hit her.  “I’ve been worried sick.”

 

Buffy felt a warm flush go through her at his genuine concern.  She put one hand to his cheek, smiling when he faded back to his human face.  “I’m sorry, Spike. We had a Scooby meeting first, and then I did a quick patrol on the way here. I didn’t mean to make you worry.”

 

“Well I did,” he muttered, his anger fading when she stroked her hand down his cheek, still smiling at him.  His expression softened even more. “Don’t want to get in your business, Slayer. And I know you can handle any vamp or demon that comes here looking’ for trouble, but—” He sighed. “Sound like a right ponce, don’t I?”

 

“I’m sorry,” she repeated. She looked around.  “Do you want to sit down somewhere and talk? I have some stuff to tell you.”

 

“Sure, pet. Just—”

 

He raised his head, holding up one hand to silence her. She watched in fascination as he went back into gameface. Angel had rarely let her see his demon persona – except when he was Angelus, and even then he’d preferred wearing his handsome human face, knowing it would keep Buffy off balance much better than seeing what he really was. So she was intrigued, watching Spike use all his senses to check their surroundings. He sniffed the air, cocked his head if listening, then gestured for her to go in the open door of the crypt.  When they were safely inside, Spike closed the exterior metal door, wincing when it screeched just a little. He then closed a heavy oak interior door and dropped a bar across it.  He pointed at a small candle guttering on a shelf, and Buffy immediately ran to blow it out, leaving them in inky darkness.

 

She felt, rather than heard his approach as he walked up behind her and put his arms around her to whisper in her ear.

 

“Someone’s out there,” he said, his breath causing her hair to move and tickle her neck, his body solid and strong behind her. “Follow me, but be very quiet.” He released her and walked away, leaving her to follow as best she could. Which wasn’t very well; she immediately banged her knee on a large stone sarcophagus that she would have sworn had moved in front of her. “Ow!”

 

Spike growled under his breath. “That isn’t quiet!”

 

“I can’t see anything,” she hissed. “You’re the creature of the night, moron!”

 

Suddenly she was scooped up and carried across the large stone room and deposited in front of a filthy glass and metal window. Filing away until later what the point was of having windows in a crypt, she rubbed a tiny hole in the grime coating the inside of the window and peered out through the still-dirty glass.  She strained her eye, trying to sort out the shadows around the crypt, until one of them moved and she was able to recognize a vaguely human shape. She flinched back before realizing the man outside could not see her through the dirt between them.

 

Spike had rubbed his own peephole above hers and pressed up against her as he stared out, his vampire vision giving him a much better view of the men now emerging from the woods.  Buffy leaned into the muscular body against her back, enjoying the way Spike’s unnecessary breathing increased when he felt her moving against him.  Without warning, he stopped breathing and yanked her away from the window and down to the floor against the wall under it. They remained there, huddled against the wall while they listened to someone moving around just on the other side of the thick stone wall.

 

Spike cocked his head, listening hard to the murmuring voices, then began running his hands over her hair and body.

 

“Not the time or place,” Buffy said, her voice barely more than a soft breath as she stiffened under his wandering hands.

 

“Shut up,” he hissed back, still feeling around until he found what he was looking for.  There was another pinch on her back before he exhaled in satisfaction, taking her hand and letting her feel the small button he’d located between her shoulder blades. “Stay here,” he breathed, disappearing into the gloom.  When he came back several minutes later, he immediately went to the window and peered out again. Buffy rose to her feet and joined him, squeezing in front of him to stare out herself.

 

The shadowed figures were now grouped together, waving their arms and clearly arguing. One of them finally began pointing in one direction and jogging that way, soon followed by all the others.  When they’d been out of sight for several minutes, she heard Spike exhale and felt his body relax against hers.

 

“I think they’re gone, luv,” he said in a soft, but more normal voice. Buffy turned around to face him, struggling to see his face in the pitch black room, then giving up.

 

“What the hell was that thing? And what did you do with it?”

 

“It was some kind of tracer.  I threw it into the sewers. It’s on its way to the ocean now. Or maybe to the water treatment plant. Either way, they’re going to be following an imaginary slayer for a while.”

 

“So, now they know where you live?”

 

“I don’t think so, luv. Wasn’t me they were looking for, and they didn’t seem to think you would have entered a crypt by yourself. That’s what the argument was about. They were trying to figure out where you’d got to when you stopped moving, and they thought maybe it’d stopped working.  As soon as it moved again, they went after it.”

 

“Could you hear what they were saying?”

 

“Most of it. Something to do with catching you in action, and wondering what kind of demon kills vampires.”

 

“They think I’m a demon?

 

“Seems like.” 

 

“Great. Just great.” She rested her head on his chest and inhaled the scent she was rapidly coming to recognize meant ‘Spike’ to her. “Now what do I do?”

 

“Stay as far away from those wankers as you can get?”

 

“Yeah, that’d be a good plan except….”

 

She felt him stiffen. “Except what?”

 

Buffy weighed her options. Oz’s “He has a right to know” against the blow-up she knew would happen if she told Spike what she was planning. 

 

“It’s possible… I might be getting a chance to get into their… I dunno… headquarters maybe?”

 

His arms dropped from where they’d been loosely circling he back and he stepped away, becoming completely invisible as soon as he did.  She reached out her hand, but he’d already moved too far away for her to reassure him with a touch.

 

“It’s going to be okay, Spike. Willow will be with me, and there will be lots of people around… I’m just going to ask Riley what the hell is going on, and then we’ll leave. In and out. Quick as a wink. And I’ll come straight here after we leave. I promise.  By… nine-thirty, ten o’clock, at the latest.”

 

There was no response but a steadily increasing snarl from across the room.

 

Chapter Five

 

Buffy’s mood when she woke up the next morning wouldn’t have been anyone’s idea of sunny. While she and Spike hadn’t actually come to blows over her decision to follow up with Riley in spite of knowing he had been trying to track her, they hadn’t spent much time whispering sweet nothings either.  A final “stupid, stubborn bitch!” and “macho asshole!” had taken the place of their usual wistful “goodnight”s.  Buffy had stomped off to her dorm room while Spike took out his anger on the stone walls of the crypt.

 

The day hadn’t gone much better, she was too distracted to concentrate in her classes, and catching sight of Riley or one of his similarly-built “fraternity” brothers every time she turned around wasn’t doing much for her disposition. Evening and it’s preparations for the meeting with Riley’s “friends” came as a relief; now the suspense would be ended, and she would find out what the soldiers were doing in Sunnydale.

 

By the time she and Willow had changed into something resembling party clothes, swung by Giles’s apartment to let him know what was going on, and been dropped off by Oz – who promised to wait with the van – it was already well after 8:30.  They walked up to the ordinary-looking building, talking about inconsequential things and wondering why the party seemed to be so quiet.

 

“Well, Riley did say it wasn’t going to be as big a party as the last one. Maybe it’s just taking longer for it to get going?”

 

“Uh huh. Maybe. And maybe—“ Willow broke off as they entered the house to find Riley and several other large young men, some in cammo, some in more casual clothing. And no one else. 

 

“Hey, Willow,” Buffy said as she watched the men begin to surround them, blocking the way to the door.  “You left your purse in the van, didn’t you?  Why don’t you go get it? I’ll just wait here for you.”

 

“Buffy, no! I—” She broke off when, at a signal from Riley, one of the men moved away, opening a path to the door.  Buffy’s hand on her back was all she needed to hasten out, looking over her shoulder to see Buffy settling into a fighting stance when the men formed a tight circle around her.  “Oh Goddess,” she breathed, breaking into a run.  Oz already had the engine running and was moving toward her. He slowed only long enough for Willow to jump in, then floored the van, narrowly missing one of two black-clad figures that had moved out of the shadows to follow Willow as she ran.

 

“Where’s Buffy? Do we need to go back?”

 

“I think she’s introducing them to what the Slayer is,” Willow said. “But we need to tell Giles what’s going on.  They were waiting for her.”

 

“Maybe we should tell Spike what’s going on.”

 

“Giles first, then Spike.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“What the hell is this, Riley?”  Buffy was giving her TA the benefit of the doubt, briefly, but when he shrugged and said, “We need to know what you are, Buffy. It’s nothing personal,” she exploded.  “Nothing personal? You set me up, and you don’t think that’s personal?” The men surrounding her were not attacking, but remained in place while Riley interrogated her.

 

“Why do you know about demons and vampires?” he demanded, stepping closer. It occurred to Buffy that all he knew so far was that she could kill vampires if she had a stake – and maybe not even that much, if they hadn’t seen her actually stake the vamp the night before.  After all, it could have been Spike’s stake she’d been holding before.  She tried to wipe the anger off her face and relaxed.

 

“I know about demons because I live in Sunnydale, Riley.  And I know about vampires for the same reason. And I know that you guys were looking for Sunday and her gang when we ran into you the other night.  My question for you is, why do you know about demons and vampires, and what are you doing hunting them in my town?”

 

Your town? What makes it your town?” He loomed over her. “And you didn’t answer my question. “Why do you know about demons and vampires? And why do you carry a stake?”

 

“I’m the Slayer, Riley.”  When he blinked at her, she shook her head in disgust.  “You’re demon hunters, but you don’t even know who’s on your side.  Look it up.  Slayer. The.”  She turned to walk out the door, only to find two of his friends blocking her way.  Giving them her sweetest smile, she said, “Excuse me, boys. I’m leaving now.”

 

When they just laughed and the blond one grabbed her right arm, she sighed and shook her head.  “You know, I really try not to hurt humans, but I think I’m about to make an exception for you guys. You are totally getting on my nerves.”  Without further comment, she took the hand that was clutching her – with a bit more strength than she would have expected from a normal man – and lifted it off her arm, using it to spin its owner into his friend, now moving in from the other side.

 

In seconds she was in the middle of a full-out attack by several strong and fast young men much larger than she was.  Strong as they were, however, they paled in comparison to the vampires and demons Buffy faced every night, and she’d soon left them all moaning on the floor.  So intent was she on incapacitating them without actually causing lasting damage, she hadn’t noticed Riley approaching from behind until he hit her with the taser. He did it twice, just to be sure, then stood back and stared at the small form crumpled on the floor.

 

“Let’s get her into the gym,” he said. “And tie her up with the vamp-proof ropes. I think she’s really strong.”

 

“No shit,” muttered Graham as he struggled to his feet.  “She kicked our asses without even breaking a sweat.  What the hell is she?”

 

“I don’t know. But we’ll keep her on ice while we figure it out.  Forrest,” he said to another man just getting to his feet, “go look up ‘Slayer, the’.”

 

He picked up Buffy’s light body, marveling at both how pretty she was and how delicate-seeming, and carried her into the gym where she was quickly tied to the weight machine.  She was already stirring by the time they’d finished.

 

Buffy waited, eyes shut, pretending to be more dazed than she actually was, while she listened to Riley giving orders to his men.

 

“While Forrest is looking up ‘Slayer’, one of you go look up Willow Rosenberg. See if there’s anything in her background that puts up a red flag.  If she hangs out with Buffy, chances are there’s something off about her too.  And run the prints we got off the door the other night. Let’s find out who that hostile is… or who he was before he became a hostile.”

 

“You have no idea what ‘hostile’ really is,” Buffy said, sitting up and opening her eyes. “But if I’m still tied here when Spike comes looking for me, you’re going to learn a whole new definition.”

 

“You’re awake!”

 

“No, I’m talking in my sleep,” she said, glaring at him from eyes that held no trace of fear.  “Of course I’m awake.”

 

“A normal girl would have been out for hours,” he said, staying well out of reach of the legs she was stretching and flexing.

 

“Taze a lot of ‘normal’ girls, do you? I gotta tell you, as a pick-up ploy, that one pretty much sucks.”

 

He had the grace to look ashamed, but continued firmly.  “I needed answers, and you were trying to leave.” He stared at her, frowning.  “You seem human, but you wiped the floor with my whole squad. How did you do that?”

 

Buffy shrugged as best she could with her arms and upper body tightly wrapped against a pole.  “I’m faster, stronger, and probably more used to fighting things that want to kill me than they are.”

 

“You wanted to kill them?”

 

“No. If I’d wanted to kill them, they’d be dead now.  They’re humans. Stupid, full-of-themselves humans, but humans.  The Slayer’s job is to protect humans, not kill them.”

 

“Job? Slayer?  What the hell are you, Buffy?”

 

Just then, Graham came back into the room.  “Nothing on Rosenberg or the hostile.  The girl was born and raised here. Went to high school with Buffy. Turned down scholarships to some pretty big schools to stay here and go to UC Sunnydale.”

 

“And the hostile?”

 

“Nothing. He’s not on anybody’s database. Even went back a few years, in case he’s older than he looks, but—”

 

Buffy’s snort of laugher brought their eyes back to her. “I think you could safely say Spike is older than he looks,” she said, shaking her head.  “What’s your definition of an old vampire?”

 

Graham looked at Riley, who shrugged, then back at Buffy. “We’ve run into one or two old vamps in this town. Twenty, even twenty-five years old, some of them.  It must attract them somehow.”

 

“Yeah, that’ll happen when you’re on a Hellmouth,” she sputtered, unable to control her amusement at hearing them refer to a vampire that had survived less than a quarter of century as “old”.

 

“You know about the… what did you call it? Hellmouth?  The power source here?”

 

“It’s why they sent the Slayer here.  It’s where the action is.” Buffy smiled, still looking entirely too confident to suit the men. 

 

“And we’re back to what you mean by ‘slayer’…”

 

“She means,” Forrest said as he came back into the room holding a printout, “that she’s some kind of mystical being made to ‘combat the forces of evil’; that’s what is says here, anyway.”

 

“Forces of… what?” They all looked at Buffy, who smiled back innocently, giving no sign that she’d been pulling on the ropes, stretching them until she thought she could almost twist her way out if she got enough time – or felt a strong enough need.

 

“Evil. Demons. Vampires. Big, secretive guys who think it’s okay to kidnap law-abiding citizens… You know. Evil.”

 

“You mean sub-terrestrials. Creatures that are hostile to man.”

 

“Yeah, okay. You say tomato, I say tomahto. Same thing. If they’re evil and dangerous, it’s my job to slay them.”

 

“Sounds like mumbo jumbo to me,” Forrest said. “But we probably need to run it by Maggie.”

 

“It’s kinda late to bother her now,” Riley glanced at his watch, and then at Buffy. “But I don’t want to let Buffy go until Maggie says it’s okay.”

 

Buffy narrowed her eyes. “You think you’re going to keep me here?” Her tone changed, as did the expression on her face. They all unconsciously stepped back a few paces, not quite sure why.  “Are you crazy?”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Ten o’clock had come and gone with no sign of Buffy.  Torn between thinking she was probably still so mad at him she wasn’t keeping her promise to check in, and concern that there was a more serious reason she wasn’t there, he finally gave in to worry and left the crypt, putting a note under a candle to tell Buffy he’d gone to find her.

 

When Spike walked into Giles’s apartment, he took one look at the weapons being handed out and began swearing.  He only stopped when Giles handed him a sword, saying, “If you’re quite through, it may be more useful if you arm yourself and get in the van with the rest of us.”

 

“I’m already armed,” he said, letting his vampire mien come to the fore, but taking the sword anyway.  “Let’s go.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

 

 

By the time they reached the street Lowell House was on, Willow had filled Spike in on Buffy’s situation when she’d left the frat house.

 

“Slayer should have been able to take them on one-handed,” he growled.

 

“That’s what I thought, so we waited for her, but she hasn’t come back yet.”

 

“And if they’re really soldiers, they probably have guns,” Xander added, staring at their assortment of swords and crossbows.  “We’re not exactly all with the firepower.”

 

Giles nodded his agreement.  He looked at Spike, who was obviously ready to leap from the van as soon as it slowed down.  “Do you think you can control yourself long enough to find out what we will be facing before you go charging in?” His eyes challenged Spike to disagree with the wisdom of knowing what they would be getting in to.

 

With an abrupt nod, Spike stepped from the van and waited for Oz to turn off the engine. “Come on, Wolfboy, let’s do ourselves some sniffing first. Find out what we need to know.”  Oz shrugged and followed Spike to the house, putting a hand on his arm and pointing silently at the motion sensors near the windows.  With a nod of understanding, Spike signaled for Oz to use his nose and ears. He leapt into a nearby tree and used his perch there to see through the window and into the large foyer of the big house. 

 

The signs of a fight having taken place in that room were obvious, and the casually-dressed men, moving gingerly as though in too much pain to walk properly, told him they’d been in the fight. None of the men appeared to be armed, and some were clearly unconscious or otherwise incapacitated.  “That’s my girl,” he whispered, dropping to the ground and pointing to another tree some distance away that would allow him to look in other windows.

 

He was only in that tree for a second or two before landing silently beside Oz, once again wearing his fangs and looking every bit the angry demon that he was.  “They’ve got her tied up,” he snarled. “I’m going in.” Oz waved for the others before following Spike onto the porch. The heavy wooden door gave easily under one kick from Spike’s boot.

 

 

Chapter Six

 

 

“You don’t want to do this,” Buffy was warning.  The soldiers were amused by her obvious concern, having no idea it was not her own safety she was worried about. “You should let me go. This is a bad idea. You really shouldn’t try to keep—”

 

“I think we should,” Graham said, exchanging a laugh with Forrest. “Who’s going to stop us?”

 

Buffy’s hearing picked up the sound of a door being kicked in just a split second before they heard it.  She shook her head in mock sadness. 

 

“Probably more of a ‘what’ from your point of view,” she said as Spike burst into the room in full game face, leaving that less sturdy interior door in splinters. Close behind him were Giles and Xander, with Oz, Willow and Anya hovering near the door and keeping crossbows aimed at the small group of more seriously injured commandos still left in the outer room. 

 

Spike glanced quickly at Buffy, but when she smiled that she was all right, he turned back to the three men facing him and snarled deep in his throat.  Even Buffy, who had faced off against Spike’s demon more than once, was impressed with the menace rolling off the coldly furious vampire.

 

Riley looked back and forth between them, not recognizing Spike as the man he’d seen so briefly several days ago.  “What kind of demon is that?” he said, reaching for one of the free weights lying nearby.

 

That, guys, is a genuine old vampire. A pissed off old vampire.  You might want to untie me now.”

 

 “You think you’ve got a better chance against him than we do?” Riley scoffed, disbelief in his voice despite what he’d seen Buffy do to his team.

 

“Oh no. Or, well, yes, actually. But I meant, if you let me go, I might be able to talk him out of killing you.”

 

“I don’t care how old he is,” Riley said, swinging the forty-pound barbell in front of him. “I doubt he’s up to killing me.  I’ve staked at least four or five cocky vampires by myself in the past month or so.” He frowned and shared a puzzled look with his teammates when everyone else, including the vampire he now recognized from his clothing, burst into laughter.  Taking advantage of Spike’s momentary distraction, Riley swung the weight at his head, narrowly missing it when Buffy yelled, “Duck!” just in time.

 

While Riley was off balance from his swing, Spike came up from his crouch, grabbing the arm holding the weight and twisting. The bone broke with an audible ‘snap,’ and Buffy winced in sympathy as Riley gasped and dropped his makeshift weapon, grappling with the snarling vampire with his remaining arm.

 

  When Buffy noticed Graham and Forrest circling Spike, holding pieces of the wooden door and tasers in their hands, she shouted again, then pulled one arm loose, and quickly untangled herself from the rest of the ropes.

 

Jumping to her feet, she crossed the space to Graham in one bound, kicking him in the side of his knee and sending him crashing to the floor. She knocked the taser away and stepped on the sliver of wood, crushing it under her booted foot. Graham was clutching his ruined knee and glaring at her. “Unnatural bitch,” he said, searching for something else with which to hurt her.  Buffy leaned forward and snapped his head back with a short jab.

 

“I’m really more of a natural bitch,” she quipped before turning serious. “And if you try to hurt me or mine again, I will stop being easy on you.”  She turned away and moved back to where Spike was holding Riley in the air with one hand. Even with the tremendous height difference between them, with his arm extended, he’d been able to lift the soldier’s feet off the floor. Riley managed to kick Spike in the thigh, causing him to stagger a little and drop the bigger man without releasing his grip on his neck. Before Riley could follow up his chance to inflict more damage, Spike brought his other fist across and knocked him to the floor, where he remained, dazed, if not as completely unconscious as Spike had expected. 

 

“Huh,” he said, frowning. “That should have put his lights out for an hour.”

 

Buffy nodded as she joined him. “Yeah, they’re human, but they aren’t any more normal than I am.  There’s something going on here. Something weird.”

 

When Forrest saw what was happening to his two comrades, he turned to run out of the room, only to find Xander standing in his way. “Don’t think so, buddy. Not unless Buffy says so.”  Using his uncocked crossbow, Xander knocked the taser out of the other man’s hand. He followed up with a clip to Forrest’s chin, which did not have the desired effect on the soldier. They grappled, dropping their weapons and wrestling for dominance. Xander’s work-hardened muscles, however, were no match for the soldier’s enhancements and he soon found himself in a headlock, turning blue from lack of oxygen.  “Little help?” he croaked, as Spike and Buffy were talking.  “I’ll be back, mate,” Spike snarled at Riley who sat on the floor, shaking his head in an effort to clear it.

 

Stepping up to Forrest, Spike tapped him on the shoulder, saying, “I’d expected you college boys to be smarter than this.”  Forrest swung around, keeping Xander between himself and the fearsome creature now laughing at him.

 

“This is getting to be a habit, innit, Harris? Overgrown bad guys using you to keep me off them?” Spike grinned through his fangs when Xander’s eyes widened at the reminder of how Angel had used him to try to fool Spike when they’d first met.  “No worries, whelp. Got no reason to think this one isn’t serious about killin’ you, so I guess the Slayer will want me to do something about it.”

 

“Could you stop talking long enough to… urk!”

 

Spike’s hands were in motion so fast, Forrest didn’t even see them move. Spike had yanked the arm off Xander’s throat and twisted it behind Forrest’s back before either human could react.  Xander fell to the floor, holding his throat and gasping for air, as Spike pulled the now-screaming soldier against his chest and reached for his neck with his fangs.  He’d barely broken the skin when Buffy’s quiet, “Spike…” stopped him. 

 

His yellow eyes looked up at her, meeting her steady gaze defiantly. For a long tense moment, his teeth hovered over the pulse pounding frantically just beneath them.  It was the sadness he could see behind Buffy’s stern expression that made him shake off his fangs. He made one attempt to argue, “But…”

 

Shaking her head, Buffy waited until he’d thrown the unharmed man across the room with a disgusted curse before she walked up to him and stood on her toes to kiss his cheek.  “Thank you,” she said.

 

“For what?” he grumbled. “Coming to get you, or not eating that wanker?”

 

She shrugged. “Either. Both. I don’t know. I just know I’m glad to see you, and happy that you didn’t kill anybody…” She glanced toward the other room, worried for a moment. “You didn’t kill anybody, did you?”

 

“Nah, pet. You did for that lot without any help from me.”

 

Buffy nodded. “I did, didn’t I? Dumbasses. I told them to let me go.”

 

“Complete gits,” he agreed. They exchanged smiles, staring into each other’s eyes until Xander croaked, “Hey, as sickeningly sweet as this is, can at least one of you tear yourself away long enough to notice that the bad guys have guns?” 

 

As one, Buffy and Spike pivoted to find Riley holding an automatic pistol in his good hand.  Graham was dragging himself toward an open closet that seemed to contain weapons of several types. His determination made it clear that he expected to find some kind of help there. The crossbow bolt that Giles put where the soldier had just been about to put a hand brought his painful progress to a halt and he leaned against the wall, reduced to ineffectual glaring and holding his crippled knee.

 

Riley moved the gun back and forth between Spike and Buffy as, without noticeable communication, they began to ease away from each other; he seemed unsure which one posed the bigger danger, but had finally settled on Buffy as being the one most likely to be stopped by a bullet. He was just taking aim at her when Giles fired the crossbow bolt into the floor in front of Graham, causing Riley to involuntarily shift his gaze.

 

That moment of inattention was all it took for Buffy to tackle Riley at the knees while Spike grabbed the hand holding the gun and began crushing the fingers against the metal until there was blood seeping out around the handle and trigger.  He took the gun from Riley’s useless hand and, while the man watched with a sick look on his face, licked the blood off – first the gun and then his own fingers.

 

“You know that was gross, right?” Buffy said, making a face.

 

“Do you have any idea the names my demon is calling me for not having turned this place into a slaughterhouse?” he fired back. “I think the least you can do is let me have a little taste.”

 

“And I repeat, gross.”

 

“I second the gross and add an ewwww,” Xander said, standing up and rubbing his neck.  “But thanks,” he mumbled in Spike’s direction.

 

Spike acknowledged the reluctant gratitude with a smirk, before turning back to Buffy.

 

“So, now what, Slayer?”

 

“I dunno. I guess tie them all up and see what we can find out about them. And who this “Maggie” person is that they needed to get permission from.”

 

“I think she’s our Psych prof – Maggie Walsh.  Remember? That’s who Riley and that guy” – Willow walked in the room and pointed at Graham– “were talking to yesterday, just before he asked you to come over tonight.”

 

“Buffy…” Riley’s voice was strained, but firm.  “My men are injured. They have broken bones and God knows what else. They need medical attention.  I’ll go with you. I’ll tell you whatever you want to know. Anything I’m at liberty to talk about, anyway. Just let me get some help for my men.”

 

Buffy frowned and glanced at Giles who grimaced as he said, “I suppose that would be the humane thing to do. However….”

 

“Not until we’re safely away from here,” Spike growled. “Wouldn’t trust that wanker any farther than…” He hesitated as he realized what he’d been about to say.  “…than Red, here, could throw him.” he concluded with a cough.

 

“I agree.  We take Riley with us and let him call from somewhere safe.”

 

“Better yet,” Xander said, “we call 911 for him. That way he can’t use any secret code or anything…” He trailed off as everyone stared at him.  “What? It’s a good plan!”

 

“It is a good plan, Xander. In fact, it is an excellent plan.”  The disappointed look on Riley’s face made it clear that he didn’t think it was a good plan at all, and that cemented Giles’s decision.  “Let us get our captive out of here and then we can send medical assistance for the others.”

 

Both arms dangling at his sides, Riley nodded and stood up. Spike walked over to him and took a strong grip on his unbroken arm.  “Don’t think I’m going to forget who you were aiming that gun at,” he snarled in Riley’s ear.  “If the Slayer gives me permission, I’m going to spend the rest of the night making you regret you were ever born.”

 

Chapter Seven

 

There was some quiet discussion out of range of Riley’s hearing about where they should take him.  Giles was reluctant to allow the man into his apartment, even though he had to admit that it wouldn’t be all that difficult for anyone to find his address if they had the resources that it appeared the commandoes had.

 

“Could take him to the lower level of my crypt,” Spike said. “If we blindfold him, he won’t be able to tell where he is. It’ll just look like a big cave.”

 

The final decision was to blindfold Riley, swing by Giles’s apartment so that he could call the Council and pick up his own car.  While Oz took the rest of their little party to Spike’s crypt, Giles would call 911 just before leaving the apartment. With luck, the cars would be hidden and everyone safely away in the lower level of Spike’s home before any kind of search for them could begin.

 

After dropping Giles off with quickly written directions to the crypt, and seeing him safely in his door, Oz sped through the night and into Restfield Cemetery, following Spike’s directions.  When they drove past the crypt, Buffy started to say, “Hey, isn’t that—” Spike’s finger on her lips and headshake stopped her and she finished somewhat uncertainly, “where we fought with that Chaos demon?”

 

“Could be, Slayer. You know how these older parts of Sunnydale look so much alike.  Might have been the same spot, might not.”

 

He gestured for Oz to drive around for a while, then showed him where to put the van so it could not be seen easily.  Oz pulled into a dilapidated vine-covered shed and parked next to Spike’s old DeSoto.  He whistled in admiration, nodding when Spike gave the old car an affectionate pat on the hood.

 

Buffy and Willow rolled their eyes and helped Riley get out of the van without falling. Both girls were beginning to have attacks of conscience at keeping Riley away from the medical attention his men were undoubtedly well on their way to receiving.

 

“Sorry,” Buffy muttered when Riley stumbled and gasped at the pain in his broken arm.  “I did try to tell you to let me go, you know.  You’re the idiot who tried to shoot me.”

 

“I didn’t want to. But….”

 

“There’s no ‘but’ here, Riley. You were going to shoot me. Kinda doesn’t matter if you wanted to or not, you know? I would’ve been just as dead.”

 

“I’m sorry, Buffy. I really am. But Maggie—“

 

“Maggie what?  Professor Walsh?  What’s she got to do with anything?”

 

“This… us… the Initiative… it’s her project. She needs the vamps and demons for research purposes.”

 

“She could have just asked Giles,” Buffy muttered.  “He’s all research, booky guy.”

 

“That’s the one that almost shot Graham?  With a crossbow?”

 

“He didn’t almost shoot him. He just stopped him from leaving. If he’d wanted to shoot him, Graham would be dead.”

 

Riley paused to digest that while Buffy and Willow steered him from Spike’s hidden garage to the crypt. “Why aren’t we dead?” he asked finally. “You’ve got to be really pissed off at us—me.”

 

Ignoring Willow’s “Ya think?” and Spike’s snarl, Buffy sighed. “Because, as I tried to explain to you, I don’t kill people – I protect them. And so do all the people who help me.”

 

“Does that include the vampire?” Riley’s voice dripped disbelief and scorn. He barely smothered a scream when Spike silently slipped behind him and said into his ear, “Only as long as the Slayer holds my leash, mate.  Only as long as she holds my leash.”

 

“Spike….” Buffy shook her head. “Not helping.”

 

“Wasn’t trying to help,” he grumbled. “Want him to know exactly what I am, and what I’m capable of…”

 

“I think he got it when you licked the blood off his gun,” she said shortly. “Give it a rest.”

 

Without replying, Spike yanked open the doors to his crypt and gestured for them all to go in.  He closed only the interior door, lighting a candle and showing the way to the hole. When Willow mentioned, somewhat timidly, that Riley’s broken arm and hand, as well as the blindfold, were going to make it very difficult for him to get down into the “cave”, they stopped at the edge of the opening.

 

“Not leaving the git up here,” Spike said, staring at Buffy meaningfully. She caught on at once that allowing Riley to figure out that he was inside a crypt would remind him of her disappearance the night before and would make it clear where she’d gone.

 

“No,” she agreed. “We can’t do that.”  She turned to Willow and Oz. “You guys go down, see what you can find that might work as a harness or something.”

 

Spike stepped in front of them and dropped into the hole first. By the time Oz and Willow had climbed down the ladder, he’d lit enough candles and torches that they could see around the huge room and peer into the tunnels leading off from it.  A few minutes of torch-powered exploration and Oz had found a length of rope with suspicious rust-colored stains on it.

 

“Do I even want to ask what this was used for?” he asked, sniffing the rope and making a face.

 

“Don’t know,” Spike said.  “It isn’t mine. I just got in here a few days ago and haven’t had time to even fix up the upstairs. Never mind making this part livable.”  He looked around and nodded. “Can see where it’s got some possibilities though. Access to the sewers; already made use of that.” He nodded at the darkness leading away from the room.  “Put some draperies up on the walls, a few nice rugs on the floor….”

 

“Are you guys finding anything?” Buffy’s question, shouted from above, put a temporary halt to Spike’s decorating thoughts.

 

“Here, Slayer,” he said, tossing the heavy rope up.  “Wrap the big git up in that and we’ll just lower him down.”  He went up the ladder, several rungs at a time, and joined Buffy on the upper level.  She and Xander were busy trussing Riley up, leaving a length of rope to use as a cable. 

 

“Go on down, Harris.  Slayer and I will lower the overgrown Boy Scout to you.”

 

Buffy walked Riley to the edge of the hole, biting her lip at the winces he couldn’t prevent whenever something jostled his broken arm.  “We’ll fix that when we get settled in,” she said, her normally compassionate nature coming out now that he was no longer a danger to them.  Spike snorted behind her, but she ignored him.  She turned Riley around and passed the rope to Spike, who pulled it taut.  With a glance that warned Spike of a dusty end if the rope “slipped” while he was lowering Riley to the ground, she knelt down and guided one of his feet to the top rung of the ladder.

 

“Just let your feet find the steps and we’ll keep the rope tight so you don’t have to worry about falling—”

 

“Or we could just push the big git into the hole and yell ‘Catch!’” Spike muttered, even as he braced himself to take the other man’s weight.  Buffy rose her feet and glared at him. 

 

“That’s enough!” she said. “Just do what you’re supposed to do and shut up, Spike.”

 

He raised yellow eyes to hers.

 

“Not your bloody servant, Slayer,” he snarled, as his feet began to slide. “An’ if you want me to keep him from falling, I suggest you get your arse over here and help. In case you haven’t noticed, the wanker outweighs me by a good fifty pounds.”

 

Buffy grabbed onto the rope and added her weight to it. Between their combined efforts and Riley’s sense of self-preservation that kept his feet more or less on one of the rungs at all times, they managed to get him to the lower level without incident.  At Xander’s all clear signal, they tossed the end of the rope down and Buffy instructed him to untie Riley’s arms, but leave him blindfolded.

 

“While you…?”

 

“I’ll be down in a minute. Don’t let him get too near the tunnel – just in case he’s stupid enough to think he can run through underground Sunnydale by himself.”

 

Buffy remained staring down for several minutes. She could feel Spike’s eyes burning holes in her back, but she couldn’t make herself turn to face him.  She was saved from her indecision by a quiet knock on the door of the crypt, followed by Giles’s cautious entrance.

 

“The light is visible from outside,” he said as soon as he’d closed the door behind him. 

 

With a nod, Spike pointed to the opening and the ladder just poking up through it. “Go on, then,” he said. “I’ll get the doors and light.”  Without looking at Buffy, he went to the entrance and closed both doors, placing a heavy stone statue in front of the inner door, hoping it would discourage anyone from trying to push their way in.

 

Giles glanced back and forth between them, then shrugged and started down the ladder, holding the bag of things he’d brought with him in one hand.  Buffy wavered, looking from the well-lit lower room to the now dark upper one and waiting for Spike to say something.  When he didn’t, but simply dropped down into the hole without touching the ladder, she sighed and joined him.

 

Buffy frowned up at the opening, wondering if the light from their level was making a visible glow. They had no real reason to think anyone would be searching for them in a cemetery, but there was no real reason for them not to either. A noise behind her made her turn to see Spike and Xander dragging a large piece of plywood from one of the tunnels.  She watched as Xander handed the wood up to Spike, who was standing half-way up the ladder. He lifted it through the hole, then let it fall flat, covering the entrance. When he’d dropped back to the ground, he took the ladder and carried it into the tunnel, out of sight. The large underground room now looked like nothing but a large open space at the end of one of the visible tunnels. 

 

In the meantime, Giles had emptied the bags he’d brought with him, pulling out first aid materials.  After looking around, Giles agreed that there was no way their hiding place looked like anything but one of the many caves that surrounded Sunnydale. He removed the blindfold, leaving Riley blinking against the flickering light. Without speaking, he cleaned out the wounds on Riley’s crushed hand and bandaged it as best he could.  He examined the broken arm, while Riley stood stoically, only his pale face giving any indication of how much pain he was in.  Satisfied that the bone wasn’t out of position, Giles wrapped it against a splint and provided Riley with a rough sling upon which to rest it. He then handed him a pain pill and a small bottle of water.

 

“Thank you,” Riley mumbled when Giles was done. Sweat beaded his forehead and he swayed on his feet.

 

“Sit down, Riley,” Buffy said, then realized he had no hands with which to help himself to the ground.  She walked over to him and helped him lower his much larger body to the ground where he could lean against the earth wall.  He ignored the muddy roots hanging all around him, leaning his head back and shutting his eyes with relief.

 

“Not gonna get much out of him for awhile, Slayer,” Spike said quietly when she walked back to his side. “He’s about done for till he gets a chance to regroup.”

 

Buffy stared at him. “Is that your medical opinion, Dr. Bloody?”

 

He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Was brought up by a master of torture  – or have you forgotten that? I can tell when a human’s past the point of being useful… or entertaining…  Give the big git some time to rest before you start askin’ questions and you might get some useful answers. Try to talk to him now, and he’ll shut down on you.”  He glanced from Buffy’s frustrated glare to Willow’s softer gaze and added, “And you might want to let Red take care of him for a bit. Give him somebody’s not trying to hurt him to focus on. He’ll prob’ly respond with better answers if she’s asking the questions.”

 

Buffy bit her lip, then nodded. “Good cop, bad cop?” 

 

“Somethin’ like that.”

 

“I’ll think about it. Far be it for me to argue with someone who was ‘brought up’ by a crazy, torturing vampire.” Everything about her voice and body posture screamed her discomfort at the reminder of what he was and what he’d been in love with for the past hundred years.

 

Spike cocked his head and gave her a sad smile. “Wasn’t speaking of Dru, Slayer,” he said. “She’s only what her sire made her. Was Angelus taught me how to read humans and how to judge what they had left.”  He turned his back and walked out into the tunnel, his vampire eyes having no need of a torch to light his way.

 

Buffy watched him walk away, startling when Giles said quietly, “As much as I dislike this… whatever it is you have between you, I think it is only fair to admit that Spike continues to prove that he is nothing like Angelus. Nor is he like any other vampire I’ve come across.  When we have sorted this thing out, I’d like very much to spend some time with him talking about his early days as a vampire.”

 

“Knock yourself out,” she replied, still staring at the empty darkness into which Spike had disappeared. She shook herself and turned back to Giles. “So, did you call 911 for those guys?”

 

“I did,” he said shortly. “And then I called London.  The Council seemed to be somewhat aware of Dr. Walsh, but had no idea she was operating in Sunnydale. They are most concerned… it seems she is in possession of some research materials dating back to World War II. Materials that came from Nazi Germany.  They will be getting in touch with… well, with whatever branch of the US government it is that they deal with… and they hope to make it safe for us to go out shortly.”  He held up an old cell phone, saying, “They’ll let us know.”

 

Buffy blinked at the mobile phone she’d had no idea Giles even knew about, let alone owned. His expression dared her to comment, so she shrugged and said, “Go tweedy, pain-in-the-ass guys.”

 

“They have their uses,” Giles agreed with a wry smile. “As much as they dislike us, and we them, we are on the same side, and they do not take kindly to having their slayers kidnapped by scientists with suspicious pasts.”

 

“What’s that about a ‘past’?” While they were talking, Spike had entered the room as silently as he’d left.  He seemed to be over his anger at Buffy as he waited, one eyebrow cocked at Giles, who stared at him with newly respectful eyes.  “What?  Did I grow horns while I was gone or something?”

 

“Giles was just saying that the Council knows stuff about Professor Walsh and that she’s a Nazi or something.”

 

Instead of laughing, Spike narrowed his eyes and grew pensive. “I’ll be dammed,” he said softly, glancing at Riley. “Bloody humans are still trying to use us.  Didn’t learn a thing the first time.”

 

Buffy’s “splainy?” and Giles’s “Bloody hell!” were simultaneous. “What do you know about this?”

 

“About this?” Spike gestured at Riley. “Nothing. About Nazis and mad scientists and capturing vamps and demons?  Been there, done that. Got the salt water in my ears to show for it.”

 

“Huh?”

 

He quickly recapped his time on the German sub, the plans the Germans had for controlling vampires and using them in the war, and, with only minor reluctance, the role Angel had played in rescuing the crew.  When he got to the part where Angel had thrown Spike and the crew member Angel had turned out to swim their way to safety, he snarled, then shrugged.  “Guess from the point of view of you white hats, he did the right thing,” he growled. “But it was a long damn swim to shore, and me with an unhappy fledgling to keep from dusting himself.”

 

“He wanted to dust himself?”

 

“Was a real war hero, wasn’t he? Angel turned him so’s he could save the sub and all the men left on it. But he didn’t want to be a vamp—” Spike stopped and stared at Buffy. “You remember what I told you about some vamps and demons?  Sam was one of them. He knew he needed blood to live, but once he got over that fledge hunger, he didn’t want to kill.  Took me a while to talk him out of offing himself.”

 

While Buffy frowned and absorbed the strange idea of a vampire that wasn’t raving for blood, Giles asked, “Why did you try to talk him out of it?”

 

Spike looked uncomfortable for a second. “Well, technically, he was family, wasn’t he?  Old Peaches knew that when he sent us out. He knew I’d look out for Sam until he could look out for himself.” He shrugged. “Besides, it was boring out there on the briny. I wanted the company.”

 

“Where is this ‘Sam’ now?”

 

“No idea. We split up after awhile and I went looking for Dru. He went back to the States; I went back to Europe.  Kept clear of any Nazi scientists, though, I can tell you that.”

 

“I’ll need to report this to the Council,” Giles said.

 

“Why? So they can put me in one of their little cages and do their own ‘experiments’? I don’t think so, Watcher.  I’ll tell you what little I know, but I’m not going anywhere near those wankers.”

 

“I’m with Spike. The less the Council knows about him, the better.”

 

Giles studied the two people in front of him wearing almost identical stubborn expressions.  “You do understand that you will not be able to keep this from them, do you not? I’m quite sure I am not their only source of information in Sunnydale. They will know that Buffy has taken up with William the Bloody within a very short amount of time.  I believe it is in everyone’s best interest that we cooperate with them as much as is possible.”

 

“Don’t even know if there’s anything to keep yet,” Spike muttered, reaching for Buffy’s hand. “Slayer and I haven’t had time to even get to know each other better – what with nosy Scoobies and kidnapping soldiers.” He waved his hand at the humans staring at them. “And now we’re stuck underground with all of you at the same time.”

 

“And I cannot tell you how grateful I am for all these distractions,” Giles said, glaring at the two linked hands. 

 

Buffy pulled her hand free, giving Spike a small smile of apology as she did so, and walked over to Riley who had visibly perked up and obviously been listening to their conversation.

 

 

 

Chapter Eight

 

“What do you know about this?” she asked, sitting down beside him. “Is Professor Walsh some kind of Nazi mad scientist?”

 

Riley shook his head. “Maggie is the brains. We’re just the brawn. We capture the demons and vamps for her, but she doesn’t tell us what she does with them.” He stared at Spike with something approaching awe.  “Was he really around during World War II?”

 

“Spike’s pretty old,” she said with a noncommittal smile. “And Angel’s older.”

 

“Angel? Which angel?”

 

“Sorry. I forgot, you don’t’ know…” She shrugged. “What the hell. Angel is another vampire that… that tries to be good.  He’s got a soul, and he…”

 

“A soul? What’s that got to do with—”

 

“Thank you!” Spike said, throwing his hands in the air. When everyone stared at him, he said, “That’s just what I’ve been sayin’… Some vamps need a soul to keep them straight, and some don’t.”

 

Riley looked bewildered. “No… I just meant…” He trailed off as he realized he was the only person in the room who didn’t understand the significance of a vampire’s having a soul.  He went back to the original subject.  “Are you saying Maggie’s a… a Nazi?”

 

“No,” Giles said. “But she appears to be in possession of notes on the experiments they performed on vampires and demons during the War.  I think we have to assume that she is continuing those experiments here… or plans to at some point.”  He fixed Riley with a hard glare. “Do you know anything about it?”

 

Riley visibly struggled with his loyalty to his unit and his boss, and his distaste for anything resembling the kind of experiments the Nazis had performed on people. “Do you know what the experiments were?”

 

Spike answered for them. “I know that by the time they were done, there were only three of us left standing.  The idea was to use us as weapons somehow, but they couldn’t figure out how to control us without killing us. So we ate them,” he finished with another shrug.

 

Riley’s face had paled even more.  “They wouldn’t have had the technology back then….” He thought for a minute, then raised his eyes to Giles. “But we do.  That’s why she wants so many of them brought in alive…. Oh God….”

 

“What do you know?” Giles and Buffy snapped the question out at the same time, causing Riley to flinch back against the mud wall. He stared at them, his mental conflict plain. 

 

“Why are we taking the word of a vampire about this?” he asked finally. “He could be lying through his teeth.”

 

“The original information did not come from Spike,” Giles said tersely. “It came from the Council of Watchers – my former employers and Buffy’s… ”

 

“Buffy’s nothing,” she muttered. “I quit before you did.”

 

Giles sighed. “So you did,” he said, “but that’s hardly the point. The point is that the Council is a… an institution… that has been around for hundreds – perhaps thousands – of years in some form or another. They have extensive records on supernatural beings through the centuries.” He stopped and gave Riley a hard look. “And connections in many, many countries in quite high places. I suspect your clandestine organization is destined for a personnel change quite soon.”

 

“So, because some organization I never heard of thinks they know what Maggie’s doing, you expect me to tell you things I’m not authorized to tell anybody?”

 

“We’re not asking you to tell secrets, Riley,” Willow broke in, her voice softer and kinder than any of the three people glaring at the injured soldier.  “But anything you can tell us would be helpful.  Like, besides dusting vampires, what else do you guys go looking for?”

 

Riley gave Willow a grateful grimace. “I guess it doesn’t hurt to tell people who already know about sub-terrestrials and hostiles….” He took a deep breath and said, “We’ve captured several vamps for Maggie to—“ He broke off, looking at Spike, then away. “Not sure what she does with them, but she says she can make them harmless.”

 

Spike snorted and turned his back. “Wonder how many she’s dusted tryin’ to make that work?”

 

Riley stared at him. “If you actually survived the… attempts… back then, you’d probably be a great subject for her.  You could volunteer to—”

 

“Volunteer to be controlled?” Spike’s eyes would have been bulging out of his head if they hadn’t already turned yellow and deadly. “Over my deader than usual body!”

 

While Buffy tried to calm Spike down and Giles shook his head at Riley’s foolishness, Willow brought the man’s attention back to her.  “You were going to tell me what else, besides vamps, you guys capture or kill.  Do you catch demons for her too?”

 

Riley shifted his gaze back to the gentle, intellectual redhead he knew from class.  “Sometimes we do. Maggie has specific kinds of demons that she needs – wants – for her… work. We try to bring them in alive when we can find them.  And then, there are the other, less common creatures – werewolves, zombies, dragons—”

 

He broke off, flinching away when his gentle interrogator suddenly had sparks flying from her fingertips and hair standing straight out from her head. She leapt to her feet and backed away from him, breathing hard and staring at him as if he’d turned into a hissing snake. Oz stepped up to Willow and murmured in her ear, stroking her arm and gradually calming her down until she was once again the shy, quiet girl Riley knew.

 

“What the hell…?  What did I say?  And how did you…?”  Riley’s expression was suddenly the most fearful they’d seen it since they’d dragged him away from his fellow commandoes.  He looked around the room again, his eyes wide open and calculating. They went from the girl he now knew could probably break him in half, to the man who somehow seemed to be in a position to tell her what to do, to the vampire who had already demonstrated how much deadlier he could be than the younger vampires Riley was used to fighting – although even Spike seemed to defer to Buffy. 

 

And back to Willow, who, it seemed, was not the innocuous coed he’d taken her for.  He narrowed his eyes at Oz, still stroking Willow’s arm and murmuring to her. Oz stared back, his usual calm expression no different from anything Riley had seen from him yet. But something about the boy’s eyes said that trying to harm Willow would not be in anyone’s best interest.  Riley’s gaze shifted to Xander, who shrugged and shook his head, lifting his arms in gesture meant to show his harmlessness and normality.

 

“Are any of you human beings?” Riley asked.  “Normal human beings?”

 

Ignoring his question, Giles said, “Are you?”  While Riley stared at him, Buffy and Spike began nodding and pointing out that neither Riley nor any of the men in his squad seemed exactly “normal” to them. 

 

“What the hell are you talking about?” Riley seemed genuinely indignant, glaring at them in confused anger.  “Of course we’re normal.  All of us.  Maggie hand-picked us for our IQs, physical abilities and size.  We’re as normal as….” he stared at the group watching him “… as anybody not part of your little… whatever you are… is.”

 

“Scoobies.”  All eyes turned to Xander.  “What? We’re the Scoobies. I mean, okay, maybe not fangface there, or Giles, but the rest of us….”

 

“Scoobies.”  Riley frowned.

 

“Yeah, you know. Like “Scooby Doo”?”

 

“I got it,” Riley said with a grimace. “I just don’t get it…” He paused to look from blonde, occasionally ditsy, Buffy to red-headed, brainy Willow, and dark-haired, somewhat goofy-seeming Xander.  “Oh.”  He glanced at Oz, Spike and Giles. “So which one of you is the big dog?”

 

There was a lot of coughing and looking back and forth at each other before Spike rolled his eyes and growled.

 

“Could be whichever one of us wants to bite you,” he said.  “It’s not a perfect metaphor.”

 

“And so not the point,” Buffy added.  “The point is, Spike and I are used to fighting vamps and demons, and in his case….” She cleared her throat.  “Anyway, we both have enough experience fighting super strong things and… sometimes… bad humans, to know what is and isn’t normal. And you guys are not normal.  You’re not as strong and fast as we are, but you’re way stronger and faster than you should be.”

 

“We take a lot of vitamins,” Riley muttered. “Maggie wants us to stay healthy.”

 

“Yeah, well, you might want to ask her what’s in those vitamins,” Spike snorted. “That punch I gave you should have knocked you down for an hour or two.”

 

“Maybe you just aren’t as tough as you think you are,” Riley said.  “Seems to me you’re pretty much being bossed around by a little girl.”

 

            There was an ominous silence as Spike went into game face and visibly struggled to hold back his snarls.  When Buffy tried to put a hand on his arm, saying, “Spike—” he shook her off and raised his hand to keep her back.

 

“I’m alright, Slayer,” he said. “Not going to harm your hostage.”  He walked over to Riley, now obviously rethinking his impulsive words, and leaned over him.  Spike let the soldier look into his yellow eyes and made sure he got a good look at his fangs before he spoke.

 

“That ‘little girl’ is the closest thing to a killing machine you’re ever likely to meet,” he said softly. “And I saw what she did to your boys – without half trying, I’d wager – so I know you know what she can do.  Don’t know how you got her down, but I know it wasn’t because you or any other overfed wanker beat her in a fight.”  He looked over his shoulder at Buffy, seeing her frown as she wondered where he was going with his unexpected speech.

 

“But the fact that I’ve never been able to kill her like I did two of the other slayers I’ve faced, isn’t why I let her tell me what to do.” He licked his lips, running his tongue over one fang before continuing. “See, I don’t have a soul like Angel does to nag me to do what’s right.  And I’m more than a mite out of practice at it. So the Slayer is my… conscience.  She’s what keeps wankers like you alive when all I want to do is rip your throat out and stuff your entrails down the hole.”

 

He stopped talking and stood up, shaking off his fangs and wrinkles.  “Mock me all you want, soldier boy. You know, and I know, that you’d be shitting your pants right now if she wasn’t standing there watchin’ my every move.”  He looked over at Buffy and spoke directly to her.  “I know I have to earn her trust. And I know I’m going to make mistakes; but letting you goad me into something she’d have to stake me for?  Not going to happen. Not today, not ever.”

 

Buffy’s breathy “oh” didn’t register on anyone without vampire hearing, but the smile on her face couldn’t be missed.  Giles cleared his throat and interrupted the exchange of heated looks between Buffy and Spike.

 

“Well, I think we should think about getting some rest, if we can. There’s no telling how long it will take the Council to get this sorted out, but it could be as soon as tomorrow. I will volunteer for the first watch, if the rest of you would like to get some sleep….” His voice trailed off as Spike and Buffy held a whispered conversation, which was quickly followed by Buffy’s, “We’re just going to check out some of these tunnels. You know, make sure there aren’t any nasties lurking in them, ready to sneak up on us while we sleep.  But you guys go ahead. Find a comfy spot on the…” she looked down at the packed dirt floor “… dried mud and rocks.”

 

“We’ll be right back,” she caroled as she followed an impatient Spike out into the darkness. After a few seconds, she popped back in with an, “Oops! Need torch!” She grabbed one off the wall and disappeared again.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

“Well, that….”

 

“Where are they going?”

 

“I’d rather not know,” Xander said, slumping against the wall near Riley.  “So, what kind of cool weapons and stuff do you guys use?”

 

Riley just blinked at him for several seconds.  “This from a guy who broke into our headquarters carrying a crossbow?”

 

“Hey, what can I say?” Xander waved his hand at Giles.  “I work with a bunch of traditionalists.  Very conservative, those watchers. Very conservative.” He grinned at Riley. “Me, now. I’m all about the manly weaponry and things that go ‘boom’.”

 

“Right.” Riley went silent, and after a while, Xander gave up and went to find a place to sleep. 

 

Willow and Oz were leaning against a wall, his arm around her and her head on his chest.  Xander watched with interest as Oz’s nostrils would periodically flare when interesting scents drifted into the room.  Giles, meanwhile, was doing as he’d promised, putting himself where he could see all the tunnel entrances, a cocked crossbow close by his side.  For lack of anything better to do, Xander finally put his own head down and was quickly asleep.

 

 

Chapter Nine

 

“Where are we going?” Buffy trotted beside Spike as he went through the tunnel, taking long strides and barely using the light of the torch she was carrying.

 

“Where there aren’t other people,” he growled.  “I’m hungry.”

 

Her steps faltered slightly. “You’re hungry?”

 

“Yeah.” He looked at her, seeming irritated at her surprise. “Haven’t eaten yet today and didn’t have time to grab any blood from my stash before we jumped down here.”

 

“Oh.  Well, if you hadn’t been so busy being mad at me, you could have taken the time, you know. I wasn’t the one in a hurry to jump down there with everybody else.”

 

“Know that,” he growled. “Doesn’t matter. The point is, I didn’t eat, and being around all that pumping blood wasn’t doin’ my disposition any good.”

 

“Your disposition is never good,” she muttered to his back. “And my blood is pumping too!”

 

“Yes,” he said shortly. “It is.”  He stopped and pointed to a crude ladder leaning against one of the tunnel walls.  “”S why we’re going up here.  After you, pet.”

 

Frowning, Buffy set the torch down and started up the ladder, squealing when she felt Spike’s human teeth on her ass. “Stop that! I’m not lunch!”

 

“Nope,” he agreed, his disposition suddenly much improved. “But you are delicious. Nom, nom, nom.” He buried his face against the inside of her thigh and pretended to chew. 

 

Buffy felt her temperature go up and her panties become wet as his mouth wandered places she was sure it shouldn’t be going.  “Stop that…” she moaned, keeping one leg raised to the next rung, even as she tried to push him away with her hand.

 

He surprised her by moving his head and replacing it with a hand on the inside of her supporting leg. “You’re right, luv. Not the time or place. But it will be… later. Gonna show you what it means to have a man who doesn’t have to breathe... Here, let me help you up.”

 

He moved his hand so that it was cupping her from front to back, his fingers teasing her through her damp clothes, sending her heart rate up. She forced herself to take another step, limiting his access, but trapping his hand between her thighs.

 

 Instead of continuing to tease her, he suddenly pushed until she almost fell out of the opening at the top of the ladder. She squirmed out on her belly, rolling over to glare at him as he joined her on the grass.  They seemed to be in the newer part of Restfield; Buffy could feel the cushioning earth under her back and smell the clean scent of new-mown grass. The hole they’d emerged from seemed well concealed by surrounding shrubbery and tombstones.  Before she could express her objection to his method of “helping,” he was covering her body with his and pressing her into the grass.  Without discussion or hesitation, their mouths met and began the familiar give and take that was all they’d been able to manage for most of the time Spike had been in Sunnydale.

 

After several minutes of kisses that left them both wanting more than just the dry-humping they were doing, Buffy came to herself enough to realize that Spike was not as lost in the moment as she was. The moonlight showed that he was going in and out of game face, his kisses still as passionate as ever, but his attention clearly divided between her and something else.

 

“What’s wrong?”

 

He sighed and rolled off to stare at the sky.  “I’m sorry, luv,” he said. “Just can’t keep the demon down right now.” He rolled his head over to meet her gaze. “I know you don’t want to be lyin’ out here with a vampire at your neck – even if he is only thinking about shagging you into the ground.”  He sat up abruptly and got to his feet, holding out a hand. “Let’s go, Slayer. There’s blood in my crypt.”

 

Buffy allowed him to pull her to her feet, releasing his hand as soon as she was standing.  “So, this is about how hungry you are?  Your demon wants to eat me?”

 

“You might say that…” He snorted, raising an amused eyebrow and waiting for her disgusted and embarrassed, “You know that’s not what I meant!” before responding. “That’s some of it.  Not all, but some.”

 

“What you’re saying is, I’m not safe around you when you’re hungry. Is that it?”

 

He whirled and grabbed her by the shoulders, shaking her lightly as he snarled.  “What I’m saying is, my demon wants you… in ways I’d guess you don’t have any—” He exhaled sharply and dropped his hands. “I would never hurt or kill you, but your blood calls to me… and it always will. Neither one of us can change that; any more than you can change that urge to stake me that you have to fight whenever my mouth gets near your neck.” He smiled when she jerked in surprise at his knowing how her body reacted whenever he nibbled on her throat.

 

“It’s what we are, luv. Born enemies. But trust me when I tell you that I’m not thinking about food when my mouth gets that close to your throat.  Being hungry makes it harder to ignore the elixir that’s flowing there, but wanting to taste it has nothing to do with hunger or feeding.”

 

“I don’t get it,” Buffy muttered. “My blood is turning you on, but you don’t want to ea—kill me?”

 

“I’ll explain it someday,” he said, halting before his crypt. He opened the outer door far enough to get in and put his shoulder against the one he’d braced shut. With a minimal amount of effort and noise, he managed to push it open far enough for them to slide through.  Putting his fingers to his lips and pointing to the floor, he quickly closed both doors and came into the room.  Buffy nodded her understanding and followed him in as silently as she could.  There was just the faintest trace of a glow around one edge of the plywood covering the hole, not enough to give them away to anyone looking in the dirty windows, but just enough that she could follow him across the room without bumping into things.

 

Spike opened a cooler and pulled out several containers of cold pig blood. He made a disgusted face that she could just barely see before sighing and upending the first container of cold blood into his open throat.  He drained it in a way that would have won any beer-chugging contest Buffy had ever seen, then dropped the plastic container and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.  He was reaching for the second container when he noticed that Buffy had looked away from him, suddenly very interested in the barely-visible contents of the dark space.

 

“I’m sorry, pet,” he whispered. “My manners aren’t what they should be when I’m hungry. Another one of those things I’m going to have to work on, I reckon.”

 

Buffy shrugged and whispered back. “It’s okay. I know what you are. I know what you live on. I just… Angel never let me see him eat, and I—” She stopped as a deep snarl erupted from his throat.  “Sorry,” she said. “I wasn’t comparing you… I was just explaining that I’m not used to—” She stopped and shrugged again. 

 

“My fault, pet. Need to stop over-reacting every time you mention him.”

 

“I think we both need to figure out how to stop making each other apologize all the time,” she sighed.  “It’s not like us to be saying ‘sorry’. Not to each other, anyway.”

 

He gave a snort of agreement and opened the second container of blood.

There was an uncomfortable silence while he quickly finished it, then put the third one back in the cooler.  He walked deeper into the darkness and Buffy thought she heard water splashing before he reappeared in the gloom, once again wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

 

“What was that? A water chaser?”

 

“That was me rinsing the blood out of my mouth and off my lips,” he said. “Figure we’ve got some issues to get past and there’s only one way I know to do it.”

 

Buffy cocked her head and began to smile.  “Is it time for more kissing?”

 

He pulled her against his chest and lowered his head. “You know any other way to forget about all the reasons why we shouldn’t be doing this?”

 

She shook her head just enough to agree with him, then raised her mouth to his, meeting him more than halfway.  This time, when the kisses had made them frantic with need, the demon remained carefully put away as the man picked Buffy up and laid her on the large flat top of a stone sarcophagus. Instead of joining her there, he dropped his coat on the floor and toed off his boots before removing her shoes. 

 

Buffy’s whimper brought him onto the makeshift bed beside her where he began to run his hands over her body, whispering to her the whole while.  He’d soon unbuttoned her blouse and opened it to allow him access to her pert, lace-covered breasts. After sucking on one nipple, and then the other through the lace, he slid one hand underneath her and skillfully unhooked the bra, pushing it up out of his way.

 

“Ah, there they are,” he murmured. “Perfect, just like I knew they would be. And delicious.” He suited actions to words, taking a nipple into his mouth and sucking on it until Buffy was arching off the table into his mouth.  One hand caressed the breast he wasn’t mouthing while the other crept down to unfasten the snap on Buffy’s pants. Her gasp when his hand ghosted over the silken skin on her stomach brought an answering groan from him.

 

He pushed her pants and underwear down her legs, moving off the lid and pulling them the rest of the way off. He smiled his approval when Buffy threw her shirt and bra over the side of the stone bed. While he was standing up, he shed his own clothes until he was as naked as the girl in front of him.  He climbed onto the sarcophagus at the end near her feet and began to kiss his way up her legs, alternating between one and the other until he had his nose buried in her curls and she was squirming beneath him.

 

While Spike put over a hundred years of practice to use showing her what he’d meant by having a lover who didn’t need to breathe, Buffy concentrated on not letting any of the sounds bubbling in her throat come out her mouth and give them away to the people sleeping only a few feet below. She put her fist in her mouth when he nicked her clit with one fang and pulled it into his mouth to suck her into an orgasm that left her with tooth marks on her hand and a new appreciation for the advantages of having an undead boyfriend.

 

Spike gave a self-satisfied growl when she final stopped quivering and relaxed under him.  He kissed his way up her body, pausing to bring both breasts to rosy points again, before resting his weight on her and nibbling on her neck.

 

“Did you bite me?” she finally managed to say, annoyed that she sounded more appreciative than angry.

 

“Just a little nick,” he said into her neck.  “Felt good, didn’t it?”

 

“So not the point!”

 

She felt his chest move as he chuckled silently.  “Alright then, luv. I won’t do it again.”

 

There was silence as Buffy stiffened beneath him, the hand stroking his back suddenly stopped moving.  She arched her neck, allowing him better access to it, while she put her other hand on his ass, pinching one cheek.  “I didn’t exactly say that, did I?” she finally whispered, pinching him again. Instead of wincing, as she’d expected, he moaned and pushed against her.  “Oh, Slayer….”

 

Buffy opened her legs, bringing them around his hips and holding him. She felt his cock nudging against her and wriggled her hips to make it slide through the moisture coating her lips. “Ahhhh,” she gasped, simultaneously with Spike’s, “Bloody hell, Buffy. Got to be in you, luv. Now. Please.”

 

Murmuring her assent, she stilled while he pushed his way into her, once again whispering his gratitude and appreciation of her body.  They began to move, slowly at first, then with more and more force as their powerful bodies began to learn each other’s abilities.  When Spike was gasping, “I can’t hold off any longer, Slayer. Come with me, love. Let me feel you…. Ahhhh!” Buffy clenched around him, her arms and legs holding him a grip he couldn’t have broken if he’d wanted to. He sucked the skin of her throat into his mouth in an attempt to muffle his growling release, while she bit down on his shoulder to keep from screaming her pleasure to the world, and more importantly, to her watcher and friends.

 

Spike’s hips continued pumping long after he had spent, only gradually slowing until he was lying still upon Buffy’s limp body.  He took his mouth off her throat, wondering briefly how much of a mark he’d made and if she’d be upset about it. He startled when he felt Buffy kissing and licking his shoulder.

 

“Buffy?”

 

“I bit you,” she said apologetically. “I needed to be quiet, so I bit you.”

 

He rolled off, pulling her with him so that she was sprawled across his body while he held her against his chest.  Now that his pleasure centers were recovered, he could feel where she’d sunk her blunt human teeth into him. “Is it bleeding?” he asked.

 

“A little.”

 

He kissed the top of her head.  “Then we’re even, yeah?”

 

She giggled softly. “I guess so.”

 

They rested quietly, Buffy nuzzling his chest and running one hand up and down his arm, while he held her in a loose embrace that tightened periodically as if he were afraid someone was going to try to take her away.  When Buffy shivered at the dropping temperature, he gave a sigh and reluctantly sat up, pulling her with him.

 

“I guess we’d best get back before the watcher sends out a search party,” he said.  “And you need some sleep.”

 

“Are you okay now?”

 

He reared his head back and gawked at her. Even in the darkness she could see his astonishment.  “Am I okay? If I were any more ‘okay’ I’d have spontaneously dusted. Are you daft?”

 

“I meant, dumbass, have you had enough to eat? Is it safe to go back down with everybody else?”

 

“Was always safe, luv.  I’d have to be starving before you’d need to worry about me like that.  It just wasn’t easy, and I knew where there was food, so it made sense to go get it.”  He kissed his way around her face, ending at her mouth, which he continued to kiss while he murmured, “But to answer your question, yes, I’ve had enough for now. I’ll be fine.”

 

“Then we should start getting dressed,” Buffy said, continuing to kiss him.

 

“We should,” he agreed, falling back onto the bed and pulling her down on top of him.

 

“Any minute.”  Buffy squirmed around until she could feel him between her thighs.

 

“Right you are.” Spike put his hands on her hips and positioned them over his cock. Buffy pushed up to her knees and lowered herself onto him, sighing in satisfaction when she felt him fill her up.  She sat there momentarily, staring down at the vampire whose expression she could barely read in the dim light. What little moonlight managed to get through the dirty windows was just enough for her to make out the soft smile on his face.

 

“Most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen,” he whispered, raising a hand to brush her cheek, then running the hand down her body to where they were joined. Buffy’s skin quivered as his fingers slid past her breasts and barely skimmed her flat belly.  She glanced down to where he was staring at their joined bodies and watched in fascination as he began to move his hips up and down, pushing her into a rhythm much like riding a horse.  She began to move with him, and was soon slamming her hips down onto his to meet him thrust for thrust.  When she arched her back and threw her head back, he took advantage of the slight separation to move his thumb and rub her into a gasping, whimpering orgasm.

 

“Oh god,” she breathed, slumping forward onto his chest.

 

“No god here, love. Just me,” he murmured into her ear as he waited for her to recover.  “Just the vampire who loves you.”

 

Buffy’s eyes widened at his words, and to distract him, she rolled them over so that she was underneath him and once again holding him with her powerful legs.  “Your turn,” she whispered, moving her hips and squeezing his cock every time she felt it fully inside.  She smiled when he began thrusting again, reaching his own release so quickly it was almost disappointing—until she realized that, in spite of his obvious satisfaction and willingness to lie there recovering, he was still hard inside her. She felt him twitch and squeezed back without thinking until she remembered that they had been planning to leave the crypt. She sighed and stopped squeezing, wriggling against him instead and saying, “Seriously?”

 

He laughed and rolled to the side, sliding out of her to the accompaniment of matching groans.

 

“Could keep this up for hours, Buffy.  But I’m guessing you have another plan.”

 

She sighed and nodded, sitting up and looking around for her clothes. “You’ll have to back up that brag some other time,” she said, poking him in the side. “We need to get back before they send out a search party.”

 

Without comment, he rolled off the sarcophagus and pulled his jeans on, handing her the pants and shoes he’d pulled off her legs.

 

“Hey? Where’s my underwear?”

 

“Huh! No idea, pet.”  He pretended to look around.  “Maybe a mouse ran off with them?”

 

“Or a rat,” she muttered, glaring at him suspiciously.   He smiled back as innocently as a vampire could; she shook her head and laughed.  “You’re a pervert. You know that, right?”

 

“Ah, but I’m your pervert, Slayer.  And that makes all the difference.”

 

She just shook her head again and continued to dress, turning around for him to fasten her bra as if they’d been together for years.  He hooked it into position, dropping a kiss on her bare shoulder as he did so. She tipped her head back to look up at him.  “You know, we didn’t really settle anything here.”

 

“We didn’t. But we sure had a bloody good time ignoring our problems, didn’t we?”

 

 

Chapter Ten

 

Moving as quietly as they had when entering, they left the crypt and hurried back toward the hidden entrance to the tunnels.  Only Spike’s vampire hearing kept them from running into a small squad of commandoes, clearly searching for any sign of Riley or the “gang” that had kidnapped him.

 

When the soldiers had passed them by, never noticing the heat signature plastered against a crumbling crypt and being shielded by the vampire and his leather coat, Spike signaled silently and they hastened to drop down into the tunnel.  Spike went first, holding his arms up for Buffy who, with complete trust, dropped into the inky space and the strong arms waiting to catch her.

 

Spike found the torch and, once they’d move away from the entrance, used his lighter to reignite it so that Buffy could see where they were going.  It took only a few minutes to work their way back to where they could see a dim illumination in the distance.

 

“Home again, home again…”

 

Buffy yawned and said, “As unhomey as that cave is, I think I’m going to be glad to see it.”

 

“Give me a couple of weeks, Slayer.  Then tell me if it’s homey or not.”

 

“Won’t matter by then, will it?”

 

“I’m planning to make it my bedroom,” he whispered in her ear, pulling her back against his chest. “And since I’m hoping you’ll be spending a lot of time there… yeah, it matters.”

 

“Oh. Okay then.”  She looked around at the tunnel and its occasional smaller branches that led further under Sunnydale. “Kinda open to the general population, though, isn’t it?  I mean to the underground population, anyway.”

 

“I can fix that,” he said without explanation. “Don’t worry. By the time its ready for you to spend much time in, it’ll be safe as houses.  And no worries about anyone hearing us,” he added with a smirk. “You won’t have to bite me to keep from screaming. Unless you want to, of course….”

 

Buffy blushed and moved more quickly in the direction of the light. “Come on, bragger,” she said.

 

~~~~~~~~~~

 

They entered the underground room just in time to see Giles succumbing to exhaustion and slumping against the wall.  He straightened up when he heard them, blinking the sleep from his eyes.

 

“Have you made the world safe for earthworms and moles?” he asked, refusing to meet their eyes.

 

“Pretty much. We didn’t see anything ooky, did we, Spike?”

 

“Huh? Oh, no. Nothing suspicious out there. Nope.”

 

“Not even the dust of the vampire I shot some time ago?”  Giles asked, the edge in his voice countered by the fact that he still wouldn’t look at them.

 

“Vampire?  We didn’t see any….”

 

“Perhaps you were looking in the wrong places,” Giles interrupted her, pointing over his head.  “I’m fairly certain there was at least one vampire up there.”

 

Buffy’s blush went unnoticed as she whirled on Spike. “I thought we were quiet!”

 

“We were, luv. Watcher just has a vivid imagination, isn’t that right, old man?”

 

“The watcher is not so old that he cannot hear the sound of….” Giles seemed to be struggling for the proper euphemism. “… heavy breathing… when it is taking place only a few yards above his head.”

 

There was silence as Buffy hid her face and Spike smirked at the man now glaring at him.  Finally, with a deep sigh, Giles said, “The timing could have been better, but I suppose this was inevitable.”

 

“Actually, Watcher, I needed to get to my stash of cold pig blood before anyone in this room started looking good enough to eat. That was my reason for going there.  Anything else that happened is between the Slayer and me, and none of anyone else’s business… including yours.”

 

“Buffy was my charge, and she is still very much like a daughter to me. Her choices in life are my business, as is her safety.”

 

“Buffy is a grown woman and makes her own choices. And I’ll wager she’s safer with me that she is with the man who was willing to cripple her for the sake of a worthless test.”

 

“Buffy is standing right here!” she said, stepping between the two glaring men and putting her hands on her hips. “You,” she said, pointing to Giles. “Don’t get to tell me what to do or who I can do it with.  And you,” she whirled on Spike who was just beginning to smirk. “You need to stop baiting Giles. I’ve already told you that incident is over.”  She continued glaring back and forth until both men muttered apologies.

 

“What did you mean by ‘worthless test’?” she asked, refocusing on what Spike had said. “Most slayers would have been killed by Kralik. I think it was a pretty ‘worthy’ test!”

 

“Exactly what I meant.  Every vamp worth his salt knows that’s how the Council of Wankers rids themselves of troublesome slayers.  If they’ve got one who’s easily pushed around, she gets a raw fledgling with the IQ of a gnat, as