Another One Bites the Dust  4/25/06

by Slaymesoftly

Rated PG13

word count 9648

Season IV –post Something Blue

Summary – I just couldn’t do totally evil Spike for some reason, so this is more like “wants-to-be-evil Spike”. The title refers to Buffy’s budding relationship with Riley.  Thanks to Always_jbj for the read-through.

 

Another One Bites the Dust

 

Chapter One

 

Spike’s eyes cleared at the same instant as did Buffy’s; for long tense seconds they stared at each other in horror before the Slayer recoiled, throwing herself off his body and spitting furiously.  Spike’s demon roared, both at the insult being offered by the visibly disgusted girl and the lack of self-control he had exhibited while under the spell.

 

He turned furious golden eyes in the direction of the tearfully apologizing witch – correctly guessing that she had been responsible for his artificial feelings for the Slayer.  He remembered the things he had said and done with his enemy; the way he had whispered lovingly into her ear; the way he had wanted her, had loved her so completely.  His snarl caused the Slayer to look at him with narrowed eyes and it was readily apparent that she was no happier about their short-lived engagement than he was.

 

Willow ignored his snarling, more concerned with apologizing to Buffy for having inflicted such a disgusting relationship on her than she was with Spike’s feelings.  No one bothered to comment upon the fact that he had been just as violated by the spell as had the Slayer.  All their sympathy was with Buffy, who had suffered the misfortune of being made to feel emotionally close to the hated vampire; not to mention the many obvious physical expressions of those emotions that everyone had observed.

 

One look at Buffy, who was playing with a stake and sneaking looks at him out of the corners of her eyes, told him that he would need to bide his time before taking his revenge.  Spike did his best to appear harmless and bewildered by the circumstances, complaining just enough to keep from arousing suspicions.  He knew that the Slayer was very close to dusting him – any hint that he was thinking about sharing some of the things they had done while under the spell and she would kill him. 

 

Jealous glares from the whelp let him know that there was danger from that direction as well.  Little of what had gone on in front of everyone was sufficient to cause outrage among most of the Scoobies, but Spike knew that even the loud smacking kisses and constant fondling that had been all they had done publicly were more than the angry young man could ever hope for from Buffy, and the boy’s envy was palpable. Even as he growled with frustration at having to be worried about such an insignificant human’s anger, Spike couldn’t resist risking a smirk in Xander’s direction when the Slayer’s attention was elsewhere.

 

The watcher, interestingly enough, did not seem overly upset about the mock engagement, being more concerned about making the novice witch understand how wrong she had been to use her budding power to manipulate her friends.  Spike settled back in his chair and carefully observed the small group of humans into whose hands he had delivered himself. 

 

I suppose, if I were human, I’d have to be grateful to them for taking me in and feeding me.  Sod that! Not like they did it out of kindness – just want to pick my brain about those soldiers, is all.  And the bloody Slayer gets off on tormenting me about my little handicap.  All her little digs about ‘impotence’ and ‘flaccid’.  I’ll show the bitch; I’ll make her remember just how unflaccid I can be.

 

            With that thought, he came up with what he felt was a suitable revenge – at least against the Slayer; the witch’s punishment would have to wait.  It remained only to find a way to make the quick shag they had shared in the bathroom public knowledge without it appearing to be his fault it was exposed.  He remained uncharacteristically quiet for the remainder of the evening as he made plans and as quickly discarded them as impractical or dangerous. 

 

            As he was sure she would eventually, Buffy took advantage of the time spent chaining him in the bathtub to threaten him with a dusty demise if he so much as hinted at what they had done in that room.  Putting on his most penitent face and using the soft tones with which he had whispered his love to her earlier in the evening, he apologized for his behavior and promised he would never reveal their secret.  Buffy’s look of suspicious amazement told him the apology might be overdoing things and he hastened to add, “’S not like I want your watcher or the whelp fightin’ each other to see who gets to stake me first, Slayer.  I’ll never tell what we did…or how much I want to repeat it,” he concluded, giving her his most beseeching look.

 

Her “Ewwwww!” of disgust only cemented his determination to somehow expose and humiliate the bane of his existence. He resolutely fought back the disappointment that he denied he was feeling when she showed no interest in his stated desire to repeat their bathroom quickie.

 

Bloody, stupid bitch.  She’s never had but that one time with the Poof and that college boy who shagged her and dumped her.  She’s got no idea how good I could have made it for her if we’d had more time.  Did the best I could for her under the circumstances, didn’t I?  Made her come twice. Told her I loved her; gave her a good seeing to, I did.  Bloody ungrateful, that’s what she is.

 

Biting his tongue, he gave her his best puppy-dog eyes and asked sadly, “Was it that bad, pet? Know it wasn’t my best effort, but I did the best I could for you under the circumstances. I tried to make it good for you, Buffy.  I’m sorry it wasn’t…enough…” He turned his head away and dropped it onto his chest in mock sorrow.

 

The good manners her mother had ingrained in her fought with Buffy’s common sense and she managed to choke out, “It…it was…okay, Spike.  It’s just…I’m the Slayer, and human, and you’re…you’re…you.”

 

The vampire ground his teeth in frustration and forced himself to keep the saddened look on his face.  “Just ‘okay’?” he whispered.  “Is that all you think it was?  Just okay?”

 

Buffy huffed in exasperation.  “What do you want me to say?” she demanded.  “That it was good?  Okay. It was good. All right?  If you had been paying any attention at all, you’d know it was.  It doesn’t matter if it was good or not; it was wrong and it wasn’t even real. I can’t believe you aren’t just as eager to forget about it as I am!”

 

“Felt pretty real to me,” he muttered, no longer hiding his annoyance.  “Think I’ve even got some bite marks to prove it.”

 

“Stop pouting,” she growled, waving her stake at him.  “It was a spell; it was wrong; and it’s over -- done – like it never happened.”

 

“Right. Never happened. Got it. No problem, luv. ” 

 

“Don’t call me that!”  She glared at his sincere expression, searching his face for some sign of sarcasm.  “That’s right,” she said, finally. “It never happened.”

 

“You might want to do something ‘bout that hickey on your neck, then,” he said mildly as he slid down in the tub. “I’m pretty sure you didn’t get that while any of the Scoobies were watchin’.”

 

He grinned to himself as Buffy whirled to examine her neck in the mirror.  The horrified look on her face when she saw the physical reminder of how lost she had been in their love-making was worth the tinge of worry he felt when she fingered the stake in her waistband.  When she flew out of the room, slamming the door behind her, he relaxed in relief and once again began to ponder how to make her to tell them what they’d done.  Which had become his plan.  Somehow, he was going get the Slayer to tell them herself that she had shagged William the Bloody. And liked it.

 

 

Chapter Two

 

The following afternoon, when everyone had once more gathered to talk about the mysterious commandos roving Sunnydale after dark, Spike was allowed back into the living room to contribute what he could to the conversation.  Buffy resolutely sat as far away from him as she could and still be occupying the same room. She had no desire to be reminded of the way they had shared the big easy chair in which the vampire was now sprawled, legs spread apart, his arms resting easily on the back of the chair.

 

“Can’t you sit up?” she snapped at him, finding it harder than she had expected to ignore the lean body stretched out across the room from her.

 

“Hey!  I’ve been chained up like a bloody pile of logs all day,” he snapped back at her.  “I need to stretch out while I’ve got the chance.   It’s not like I’m bothering you from all the way over here.  Is it, Slayer?” he added, lifting a challenging eyebrow and laughing to himself at her angry flush.

 

She turned away from the smirking vampire and began telling Giles what little she had learned about the commandos.  Spike became suddenly serious when they began discussing the facility in which he’d been housed while the technicians had run their tests and then had somehow rendered him helpless to harm humans. 

 

“Do you think you could recognize any of them again, Spike?” the watcher inquired in a tone of voice that clearly indicated his distaste for having to depend on a vampire for information.

 

“I dunno,” he replied honestly.  “The wankers that took me down the first time zapped me with something as soon as they threw the net over me. Never got a chance to look at them or even get a good sniff.  Think I might recognize some of the soldiers what came through the labs though – and the bloody sadists who were working there,” he finished with a snarl.  To his surprise, the looks he received from some of the people in the room were almost sympathetic and he immediately began to play to Willow and Anya as he talked about the drugged blood and the many demons being held in the large plastic cages.

 

“You know,” he said casually, “I wouldn’t be surprised but what those people wouldn’t be curious about the Slayer and her friends.  I wonder what they’d do if they knew about Red and her little spells?  Or demon-girl there?  Think of all the things she could tell them about the demons they capture.  Or the Slayer.  What would they make of a slip of a girl who was stronger than any two of them and who spends her nights slaying the creatures they’re capturin’?”

 

The watcher frowned before nodding in agreement.  “As much as I hate to say it, Spike may have a point there. Perhaps you should keep a low profile for a while, Buffy.  At least until we figure out which side these people are on.”

 

“Ummmm…okay…” she stammered. “I guess that means I shouldn’t be telling anybody about…anything?”

 

Giles glared at her suspiciously.  “That would be what it means, Buffy.  Why? Is that a problem?”

 

“Um, well, it’s just that I’ve been…seeing this guy, and he…” She shot Willow a helpless glance. “I ran into him when I was under the spell and I told him I was going to marry an older man named ‘Spike’ and then I tried to explain…and he didn’t get what I was saying…and so I…I… Iinvitedhimtocomeoverhereandmeeteverybody,” she finished in a rush.

 

“You WHAT?”

 

“I invited him to come over tonight and to talk to Willow and to meet you, and to see that I wasn’t crazy when I said I was under a spell the other night.”

 

“I see.”  The anger in her watcher’s voice was clear.  “And what, exactly do you know about this young man?”

 

“He’s our TA in psychology class,” Willow contributed helpfully. “He seems very nice.”

 

“Awww, the Slayer has a boyfriend.  Another college boy who wants to shag her.  Isn’t that sweet?” 

 

The vampire’s sarcasm had an angry edge to it that caused Buffy to shoot him a look of suspicion and warning.  He stared back at her blandly, smothering the possessive growl his demon wanted to express.  He raised one eyebrow and continued, “So, Slayer. What can you tell us about the new boy-toy. Are you sure he isn’t dating you just to find out what you are?”

 

He smirked when he saw the uncertainty flit across the Slayer’s face and made a note to himself that she did not appear to be very secure about her ability to attract a man.  Bloody stupid, that is, but I can make it work for me. Make her think even a vampire wouldn’t shag her without the help of a spell.

 

Xander’s “Shut up, Spike” went almost unnoticed as the door reverberated with a heavy knock.  Buffy leapt to her feet and looked around anxiously, ending her visual search of the room with the curious vampire.

 

“Nobody says anything about my slaying, or that Spike is a vampire.  We’ll introduce him as Giles’ relative, William, or something like that.  All Riley needs to know is that Willow is a witch and she can cast spells.  He doesn’t need to know anything else…about anybody.  And he definitely doesn’t need to know that it was Spike that I was engaged to!  Is that clear?” she finished with a glare at the vampire.

 

“You’re hurtin’ my feelings, Slayer.  I’d almost think you were ashamed of me…or of what we—“

 

The stake Buffy threw with unerring accuracy buried itself in the stuffed back of the chair bare inches from Spike’s face, effectively shutting the vampire up in mid-sentence.  He grinned at her with bravado, but his cold stare told her that he had received her message loud and clear.

 

“I was just going to say, ‘What we meant to each other, pet.’  Don’t know why that got your knickers in such a twist.”

 

There was a brief, uncomfortable silence as everyone processed what Spike might have said that Buffy was so determined they not hear, before the heavy knocking was repeated and with a final glare at the now-quiet vampire, the Slayer went to the door and opened it carefully. From the corner of her eye she saw Spike pull the stake from the back of the chair and begin playing with it.

 

“Hi, Riley,” she said, forcing into her voice a smile and a cheerfulness she was definitely not feeling.  “Come on in, please.”  She ignored her watcher’s sudden hiss as she invited a stranger into his home without taking the proper precautions to make sure that he was not a vampire.

 

The big man entered quietly, sending a quick smile of recognition towards Willow and a general friendly glance to the other people in the room.  Buffy turned anxious eyes onto the chair in which Spike had been sitting, only to find it empty, with no sign of the vampire. Only the sound of a door being pulled shut in the hallway gave any evidence that he had been there. Her stake, she noticed, was also missing and she breathed a sigh of relief that she would not have to be explaining to Riley why Giles had furniture with pieces of wood embedded in it.

 

With a shrug of dismissal at Spike’s abrupt departure, she began to introduce her new boyfriend to her friends, grateful that she was not going to have to include a bleached blond punk vampire among them.  When introductions had been made, Riley looked around curiously and asked, “Was there someone else here? I would have sworn someone was in that chair when I came in, but if there was, he sure can move fast!”

 

While Buffy choked and tried to think up a reply, Giles stepped in, saying smoothly, “I have a visitor from England who is suffering from jet lag. He was already heading for bed when you knocked.  Perhaps you caught a glimpse of him from the corner of your eye as he left the room.”

 

“I guess so,” the young man agreed with a smile.  “Certainly nothing human could have moved that fast.  My eyes must have been fooling me.”  He gave Willow a small grin.  “Or maybe Willow the Witch was doing another spell,” he said with a wink.

 

“Always a possibility,” the older man agreed dryly, causing Riley to do a double-take.

 

“I was joking,” he said with raised eyebrows. “I mean Buffy said that Willow had…but I didn’t think she meant it literally. I know there are…things...in this town that are unusual; but magic? Come on!”

 

“Unfortunately, or fortunately, as the case may be, magic is quite real.  Not that everyone can do it,” the watcher hastened to add, “but our Willow seems to be a natural.  She simply needs to learn some control,” he concluded with a glare at the apologetic-looking redhead.

 

“So,” Riley turned to Buffy, “you really WERE under a spell when you told me you were getting married to a guy named ‘Spike’?”

 

“Yes, I was.  Really.  No engagement here. Nosireee.  No wedding for this girl. All free and single.  It was just the spell.”  She smiled her perkiest smile.

 

“So, who is this guy, Spike? And why would Willow want you to be married to him?”

 

“Spike?  Oh, he’s nobody.  Just some guy I needed to see about…something and she was all ‘oh, she should just marry him!’  and then he was proposing, and I was saying “yes” and then there were dem—“ she broke off at an angry cough from her watcher.  “…demands!  Then there were demands for a wedding…and you saw me when I was looking for a dress.  And that’s all there was to it!” she finished brightly.

 

Riley gave her his “you are a very strange girl” look, but just nodded and said, “Well, I’m certainly glad to hear you aren’t engaged.  I would hate to be dating another man’s fiancée.”

 

Xander’s scoffing, “As if Buffy would have anything to do with that bloods—bloody!  that bloody lowlife,” distracted Riley long enough for Willow to gesture that she wanted to speak to Buffy privately.  “Wow, Giles,” Xander continued with an apologetic shrug towards Buffy, “you must be rubbing off on me.  Here I am using bad words from the old country.”

 

“Yes,” the watcher agreed tersely. “So I noticed.  Perhaps you should try mastering your own version of the language before attempting mine.”

 

While Riley watched the puzzling exchange, Willow pulled Buffy into the kitchen to whisper, “Don’t you think it’s kind of strange that Spike didn’t want to be out here where he could embarrass you in front of Riley?”

 

“I was just happy he wasn’t there; but now that you mention it, it IS weird.  I thought he’d be sitting there making crude comments and instead he was already gone…”

 

“As soon as he saw Riley, he just - whoosh! He was gone!  I forget sometimes how fast vampires can move.  It was like he didn’t want Riley to see him or something.”

 

“Okay, he’s obviously up to something.  I’d better go see what it is.  Try to keep Riley amused and Xander’s mouth shut, will you?”

 

As they stepped back into the living room, Buffy excused herself and crossed to the hallway leading to the bathroom and spare bedroom.  With the bathroom door open, she could see that Spike had not gone back into the bathtub.  I guess I can understand that.  It can’t be very comfortable for him, being chained in there. She pushed open the door of the spare bedroom only to find Spike pressed against the far wall, stake held like a weapon and what could only be an expression of fear on his face.

 

“What are you up to?” she growled suspiciously.  “And why are you in here?”

 

“There’s a window in here that I can jump out if I have to,” he growled back.

 

“Why would you have to jump out the window? And if you’re thinking about doing that, why shouldn’t I just chain you back up in the tub?”

 

To her surprise, the vampire’s voice took on a pleading tone. “Just let me stay here until your boy-toy is gone, Slayer.  Please,” he added, his eyes showing how serious he was, as well as how much it hurt him to beg her for anything.  The obvious fear on his face was puzzling, but her own desire to see what was going on in the living room prevented her from pursuing it for the moment. With a curt nod and a “Just stay here, then,” she turned and went out of the room, pulling the door shut behind her.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 

She answered Willow’s questioning look with a shrug and turned her attention back to Riley and his laughing questions about magic.

 

“So, if you believe in magic, does that mean you believe in other things?” he asked with a grin.

 

“What kind of other things?”

 

“Oh, I don’t know…you know, ghosts, vampires, werewolves, demons…”

 

“Oh no!” Anya blurted.  “We don’t believe in demons, do we Xander?  No demons here.”

 

Giving the ex-vengeance demon an angry glare, Giles said tightly, “Of course not.  Magic is a part of the earth’s essence, which may be accessed by those with the gift for it.  It has nothing to do with mythical things that go bump in the night.”

 

Buffy laughed nervously.  “No, Riley, of course we don’t believe in demons and werewolves.  It’s not like we’re living in a horror movie here in Sunnydale.”

 

“No, of course not.  I was just kidding,” he said with a laugh. 

 

“Do you believe in them?” Giles inquired shrewdly, earning himself a glare from his Slayer.  He studied the young man’s face very carefully as Riley answered somewhat uncomfortably, “No, no, I don’t.  If there actually were such things, they would just be a form of animal wouldn’t they?  Probably something sub-terrestrial which would explain why they are so rarely seen.”

 

“Ah yes.  Some form of heretofore undiscovered animal.  An interesting concept.  So, theoretically, if one were to find one of these…creatures…and capture it, one could learn a great deal about the new species simply by running experiments on it.”

 

“Exactly!” Riley couldn’t hide his enthusiasm.  “Think of what could be learned about a whole world most people don’t even believe exists! If enough of these creatures could be captured and studied-- where their strength comes from, what kinds of stresses their bodies can withstand, how quickly they heal --there is so much that could be learned in the proper setting.  And if they could be rendered harmless or controllable?  Think of the wartime advantages of having soldiers with night vision, super strength, super speed…the possibilities are endless.  Why even Willow here could be useful in time of war.  Assuming, of course,” he said with a wink in the astonished witch’s direction, “she can do spells that cause more than just spontaneous engagements.”

 

Anya had crept behind Xander’s much larger body as Riley had gone on so enthusiastically about capturing demons and experimenting on them.  To Buffy’s surprise, she found herself placing her body between Riley and the hallway to the back bedroom in which Spike was hiding so fearfully.  Willow was staring at the man with wide eyes, clearly wondering if he was serious about using magic as a weapon and Giles was staring at him with dawning comprehension.

 

“If you will pardon me for a moment,” he said smoothly, “I wish to check on my guest.  Do make yourself comfortable – I am looking forward to continuing this hypothetical discussion when I return.”

 

The older man quickly moved towards the room in which Buffy’s body language told him that Spike was hiding. Seemingly unaware of the sudden tension in the room, Riley sat down in the easy chair. He eyed the ripped fabric curiously but said nothing as his large body covered the hole left by Buffy’s stake.

 

Meanwhile, Giles had slipped into the back bedroom only to receive the same defensive greeting as had his Slayer.  The helpless vampire was cowering against the wall nearest the window, which he had already opened.  His eyes flashed amber as he faced the watcher warily.

 

“I take it your hasty departure from the comforts of my living room had something to do with the arrival of Buffy’s new boyfriend,” the other Brit said in a conversational tone.  “Is he one of them?”

 

Looking momentarily surprised, Spike visibly relaxed and nodded. “Yeah.  I remember the big git only too well.  I’ll kill myself diving out this window before I let him take me back there,” he finished, pulling himself up to his full height and crossing his arms emphatically.

 

“Yes, well, as admirable as your determination may be, that would be quite a trick seeing as we are on the ground floor,” Giles responded dryly.  “However, I doubt it will be necessary.  We have no intention of turning you back over to them at this time.”

 

“The Slayer say that?” Spike questioned suspiciously.

 

“Not in so many words, but I believe her presence at the end of the hallway is an eloquent indication that she feels the same way.”

 

“She knows what he is?”

 

“I should think it was fairly obvious, given the way the bloody fool blathered on about using demons as weapons.  Of course, at this point we are all equally busy pretending to be discussing hypothetical beings and situations. I suggest you remain here as quietly as possible; in fact, pretending to be sleeping might be a good idea.”

 

Spike eyed the bed dubiously.  “Would be nice to get some kip in something besides your soddin’ bathtub,” he agreed slowly. “So, you’re promisin’ to keep that overgrown Boy Scout away from me?”

 

“To the best of our ability, yes,” the watcher agreed.  “You may come out when he has left the building.”

 

Leaving Spike to ponder the incongruity of being under the slayer’s protection, Giles returned to the living room to join what seemed to be a lively discussion of the potential uses to which werewolves, demons and vampires could be put.  Riley was holding forth on how much better it would be to have military dogs that could speak and understand human speech much of the time, as would be the case if the army used werewolves instead of real dogs.  He didn’t notice Willow’s pale face, or the way she was clutching the arm of her chair. For the first time since Oz had left her, she was grateful that he was no longer in Sunnydale.

 

“Okay,” Xander tried to keep the discussion going, “But how would you keep the werewolves from ripping their handlers’ to pieces?  I mean, it’s not like they're known for their discriminating taste in food.  Assuming they actually existed, that is,” he hastened to add.

 

“Oh,” Riley waved a hand airily. “You could just control them with some sort of implanted chip that would stimulate the pain centers every time they tried to bite an unauthorized target.  It wouldn’t take long to train them like that.”

 

“Sort of like those “invisible fences” people use to keep dogs home,” Buffy said quietly as her dreams of romance with the oblivious man went up in smoke.

 

 “Yes, like that,” Riley agreed eagerly,  “Only the control would be internal, so it would be impossible for them to get rid of it themselves.  No collar to take off, just a permanent stimulus in the brain.”

 

“It sounds as though you have given this a great deal of thought,” Giles said carefully, sending Buffy a sympathetic look as he recognized the reason for her subdued demeanor.

 

His comment jarred Riley into realizing exactly how much he’d been talking and how much he might have inadvertently given away, had these people been at all knowledgeable about his other activities.

 

“Oh well, it’s been a fun discussion,” he said quickly.  “Totally hypothetical, of course.  We’re all agreed that those creatures do not really exist, and if they did, who would have the resources to run around capturing and training them?”  He laughed nervously – too worried about what he might have given away to notice how forced the accompanying chuckles sounded.

 

Buffy begged off Riley’s offer to drive her back to the dorm, saying that she and Willow were planning to pick Giles’ brain for information they needed on England and would be there until quite late.  Giving the girls a puzzled look that said he was mentally reviewing what he knew of their classes for one that might require any knowledge of modern day England, he reluctantly agreed and left after dropping a chaste kiss on Buffy’s upturned face.  He failed to notice that the smile she had glued to her less than welcoming lips was a complete fake and he left the apartment confident that he had learned a bit about witches and Willow without actually giving away his other job.

 

I’ll have to tell Maggie about Willow.  She was interested in her, anyway, now she will really be interested.  Magic.  Who knew?  Makes sense, though, considering all the other things going on in this town.  If there was really magic, this would be the place to find it.  Probably has something to do with Willow’s being born and raised here. Definitely worth investigating more.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Four

 

Once the big man had left the building, Buffy hastened back to the bedroom only to find Spike already leaving it.  Tossing Buffy’s stake to the bewildered Slayer, he brushed past her to the bathroom where he picked up his duster, shrugged into it and stepped towards the door.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

“What does it look like?  I’m getting out of here before that big git comes back and brings his buddies with him.”

 

“You can’t go out there!” Buffy blurted out, her remark less a command than a surprised observation.

 

The vampire cocked his head at her curiously. “Why’s that, Slayer?  You don’t want to be caught hidin’ me here anyway.  It’s bad enough you had to tell him about Red, there.  If that wanker thinks I’m part of your little Scoobie gang, he’ll know something’s up with you.”

 

“If you go out there, they might capture you again.  You heard what he said – they want to use you for a weapon. They want to control you. I can’t let them do that, Spike.”

 

“They can’t control me if I’m not here,” he growled. “And I’m NOT gonna be here.”

 

Buffy remained planted in front of him, preventing him from exiting the small room.

 

“How are you going to eat?”  Even as she asked the question, she wondered at herself.  Let him starve. What do I care as long as he leaves Sunnydale?  “Have you forgotten already what kind of shape you were in when you came crawling to us for help?”

 

“I did NOT ‘come crawling’ to you for help!” he blustered.  “I came offerin’ information in return for some…assistance with getting’ food.” 

 

“You were starving,” she said flatly.  “We took you in and fed you.”

 

“You took me in, chained me up and mocked my…disability.  And your arrogant little witch friend made me think I was in love with you! You! The bane of my existence.  I hope you’re not expectin’ a ‘thank you’ for all that, Slayer, cause I don’t think that’s gonna happen.”

 

He glared into her angry eyes, refusing to allow himself to acknowledge the hurt look that had flashed through them first or the sudden urge to apologize that it had provoked.  His gaze unwillingly dropped to her lower lip, which was creeping out into a pout. Simultaneously, both vampire and Slayer remembered how recently and how often he had nibbled on that lip and as he wrenched his eyes away Buffy pulled it into her mouth and bit down hard.

 

 “She didn’t make you fall in love with me,” she argued, lowering her voice.  “All she did was say that we should get married.  We didn’t have to be in love – that wasn’t Willow’s fault.”

 

“If we didn’t have to, then why the bloody hell were we?” he snapped.

 

“How the hell should I know?”  Buffy’s voice had risen again, her never-very-strong confidence in her attractiveness shaken by the vampire’s obvious disgust for himself.  “She was mad at me. She couldn’t have done anything much worse than make me want to marry you, could she?”

 

“She could have made you want to shag me – oh wait, you did want to shag me, didn’t you?”  He grinned maliciously at the stricken look on the Slayer’s face.  “In fact, if I remember rightly, you insisted on it. ‘Oh, Spike, I don’t want to wait.  I want you now, baby,’” he finished with a smirk, relishing the horror in her eyes as she remembered her boldness when she’d found that underneath the vampire’s ‘bad boy’ image lurked a Victorian gentleman who wanted to protect and cherish her.

 

The Slayer’s hand moved almost of its own volition, snapping his head back with the force of her slap.  Her nostrils flared as she struggled to control the urge to beat him until he couldn’t move.  He put one hand to his aching cheek and smirked again.

 

 “The truth hurts, doesn’t it, luv?”

 

“Don’t call me that,” she said quietly, turning away and leaving the doorway open. 

 

He watched her walk away, his demon rejoicing at the defeated slump of her shoulders, before following her into the living room for more verbal sparring. He frowned when she resolutely kept her face turned away from him.  Ignoring the curious looks from the others in the room, he approached her warily.

 

“This isn’t any fun if you won’t fight back,” he complained; unsure of why he was bothered by her lack of interest in continuing their argument, only knowing that he wasn’t ready to give it up yet.

 

“I think you’ve had all the fun at my expense you’re going to get, Spike,” she answered dully.  “If you want to leave, just leave.  I don’t care if they recapture you or not.  I should have just given you to Riley while he was here if you want to be gone that badly.”

 

“Fine!” he growled, unaccountably irritated that she suddenly didn’t care what happened to him.  “I’ll leave then!”

 

“Fine!” she snapped back. “Don’t let the door hit you in the ass!”

 

“Uh, Willow? Did you do the spell again or something?” Xander’s question came as he looked back and forth between the two angry superbeings standing rigidly with their backs to each other.

 

“No! Of course not, Xander.  Why would you think that?”

 

“Cause Buffy and the chipped wonder are fighting just like they did when they were engaged.  Listen to them.  They sound like an old married couple.”

 

Both blonds whirled towards each other; their eyes met in a brief moment of shared dismay before they turned matching glares on the suddenly nervous boy.

 

“N…not that there’s anything wrong with that!” he stammered quickly, looking back and forth between them and shrinking back to stand behind the watcher.

 

Giles looked at the two glaring former fiancés and shuddered at the thought of having two such powerful fighters angry at him at the same time.  With uncharacteristic sympathy for the often-irritating young man, he attempted to soothe Buffy before she could do anything she might regret later.

 

“Buffy,” he began calmly, “I can understand why you would not want to be reminded of your unfortunate engagement to Spike, but the boy is quite right. The two of you ARE arguing again, and quite loudly, I might add.  May I ask what the problem is?”

 

“The problem is, he isn’t a pile of dust yet,” she muttered, taking her angry glare off her friend’s face and sliding her eyes towards the vampire.  “He wants to leave,” she added.  “He would rather take his chances with those soldiers than stay here with us.”

 

“And you want him to stay?”  Her Watcher’s eyebrows shot up as he looked from his charge to the uncomfortable-looking vampire beside her.

 

“What?  No! Of course not! But he can’t go out there – we don’t know where Riley went or where the rest of those guys are tonight.”

 

“The only place I’m going is out of this town,” Spike growled.  “I’m hopping the first train, plane or boat that can take me away from here.  That’s the only way to be sure they don’t get their hands on me again.  I’m not gonna hang around here until you decide I’d make a nice prezzie for your boy friend.”

 

“He’s not my boyfriend,” Buffy said with a sigh.  “Not anymore, anyway.”

 

“Oh, come on, pet,” he insisted.  “You’re bloody made for each other, aren’t you?  You kill vamps and demons; he catches and tortures them.  What’s not to like?”

 

“I’ve only met one demon I would want to torture,” Buffy said, moving to stand nose-to-nose with the vampire.

 

Refusing to flinch away from her glare, he leaned in even closer, whispering, “Torture is the same thing as foreplay to a vampire, pet.  Are you sayin’ you still want my hot little body?”

 

“In your dreams, Spike,” she hissed back at him, shoving his laughing face away from her.

 

Already mourning the hole in his favorite chair, Giles stepped in again, interrupting what seemed destined to turn into a physical altercation.

 

“Spike, we are not going to turn you over to the people who did this to you.”  He gestured vaguely at the vampire’s head and the scar still visible there. “But I must agree with Buffy, it is too dangerous for you to go out there just now.”

 

“Not that I don’t appreciate the concern, Watcher, but I’m havin’ a hard time believing that anybody in this room actually cares what happens to me.”

 

“Nobody does,” Buffy snapped.

 

“Quite right,” her watcher agreed, meeting the vampire’s suspicious eyes and allowing just a hint of the Ripper to show through.  “However, if you are recaptured, you are capable of telling them much more about Buffy and her activities than seems wise just now, so I am agreeing with her and telling you that you may not leave until we deem it safe.”

 

“I’m not goin’ back into that tub,” the vampire growled in a voice that promised he was willing to risk the pain if he had to fight.

 

“Will you give us your word then that you won’t try to leave?”  The watcher waved his hand behind him to cut off Xander’s indignant complaint.

 

Spike glared back and forth between the watcher and the Slayer. Buffy was watching him curiously, but seemed prepared to accept his word that he would remain in the watcher’s apartment.  He met the Slayer’s challenging eyes and said almost to himself, “We wouldn’t want them to figure out what the Slayer is before she’s had a chance to size up the situation, would we?”

 

“Exactly,” Giles responded, waiting impatiently for an answer.

 

“So,” Spike continued, facing Buffy rather than the watcher, “My choices are – stay here chained up in the bathtub, or stay here willingly and…what? Get my own room?”  He raised one eyebrow at the fuming girl.  “With my own bed?”

 

“You’re dead, Spike,” she spit at him, knowing he was baiting her and unable to stop herself from responding.  “Shouldn’t you be sleeping in a coffin? One with the lid nailed down?”

 

“There wouldn’t be enough room in there, pet. I mean, in case I wanted…company.  You never know, I might get enga-“ His smirking answer was cut off by Buffy’s arm across his windpipe as she shoved him bodily back into the hallway and then into the bathroom. She slammed the door shut behind her and punched the unresisting vampire in the face, knocking him into the tub.

 

With a muffled curse, he sat up, rubbing the back of his head near the angry-looking scar from his surgery.

 

“Bloody hell, Slayer.  Don’t you have any sense of humor at all?”

 

“I wasn’t hearing anything funny, Spike.  I was hearing you trying to tell my friends and watcher that you…that I…we…You were about to give them way too much information about that spell.”

 

“You’ve got no bloody idea what I was going to say. But now that you’ve got your knickers in a twist about it – for the second time tonight, I might add – I’ll bet they’re all wonderin’ what we did.”

 

“I hate you,” she grated out, furious that he was probably right and knowing she had fallen right into the trap he was setting for her.

 

“Right back at you, pet,” he snarled.  “Do you think that was fun for me?

You think I want anybody to know about it? I’m supposed to be killin’ Slayers, not shagging them.”

 

“Oh, so you didn’t like it?”  She did her best to look disbelieving, but her eyes gave away her insecurity and he seized on it.

 

“It was alright, I guess,” he shrugged dismissively.  “For somebody with no more practice than you’ve had. I’ve had better – but then, I’ve prob’ly had worse too.”

 

“You’re lying,” she said with more conviction than she felt.  “I remember what you said while you were—I know you liked it.  You told me I was—“ She stopped unable to repeat the combination of endearments and vulgarities he had whispered to her while they made love on the bathroom floor.  She blushed at the memory of the things he had done to her and the way she had reveled in the sensations.

 

“Of course I said…things,” he responded gruffly.  “Thought I was in love, didn’t I?  Don’t take them to heart, baby. I didn’t mean them.”  He shifted uncomfortably, hoping she wouldn’t notice the bulge in his jeans that put the lie to his words.  Visions of the Slayer spread out under him on the rumpled rug upon which she was currently standing insisted on filling his head and he snarled at his own weakness.

 

The snarl snapped Buffy out of her own memories of what it had felt like to be cherished by such a talented lover.  The fact that it had all been an illusion, combined with the knowledge that the man she had thought might be her first normal boyfriend was apparently some sort of combination commando/lab tech who thought it was all right to experiment on sentient beings just reinforced her conviction that she would never have a normal love life. She forced herself to ignore the sadness that had become a part of her life ever since she had acknowledged that she an Angel could never be together and to concentrate on the current situation.

 

They plan to use the vampires and demons they capture as weapons. What if they’d captured Oz?  Would we have ever known what happened to him or where he was?  Would they have made him a guard dog? Quiet, clever Oz?  What about Willow?  Riley knows about Willow – was he kidding about using her as a weapon?  What would they want to do with me if they knew?

 

She looked at Spike again with newly opened eyes.  As much as she hated the blond menace, the idea that someone had intended to essentially make him a slave made her skin crawl.   The change in her demeanor wasn’t lost on the vampire and his expression softened as he asked her, “What? Why are you lookin’ at me like that?”

 

“They want to make you a slave,” she said slowly.  “They have to know vampires aren’t animals – that you have thoughts and..and…“

 

“Feelings?” he finished for her.

 

Embarrassed, she didn’t acknowledge his quiet comment, just muttered to herself, “It isn’t right.  Someone has to stop them.”

 

“Don’t go getting’ yourself mixed up in this, Slayer,” he surprised them both by saying urgently.  “You know if they find out what you are, they’re gonna want to add you to the collection.”

 

“I’m HUMAN!” she blurted, startled to hear the vampire voicing her own concerns. 

 

“Bet they won’t think so, pet,” he said, standing up in the tub and asking with his eyes if it was all right for him to step out.  “They won’t understand what you are.  They don’t get the whole ‘good’ ‘evil’ thing.  They just see normal human and animals.   Except for themselves,” he added with a disgusted grunt.

 

“What do you mean, ‘except for themselves?’ Aren’t they human?”

 

“Oh yeah, they’re human enough – but they’ve been enhanced somehow. Bigger, stronger, faster…”

 

Grabbing his leather-clad arm, Buffy yanked him out of tub and pulled him towards the door.

 

“We need to talk to Giles,” she said decisively, pulling open the door and walking out.  With a bemused shrug, Spike followed her into the other room and prepared to tell her watcher all he knew.

 

 

 

Chapter Five

 

“Let me be sure I have understood this correctly,” Giles said in a frighteningly calm voice, staring hard at Spike, who had finally provided much of the information he’d apparently been withholding from them.  “These military types – commandos, if you will – that captured you are stronger and faster than normal humans.  Is that what you’re saying?”

 

Spike nodded once and moved closer to the Slayer.  He had seen the man in front of him take on Angelus with nothing more than a torch and his righteous anger over the death of the woman he loved.  Spike had no illusions about what lie beneath the watcher’s tweedy exterior, nor did he fail to understand that the man was very angry at having not had the information earlier.  The knowledge that he could do very little to defend himself if the watcher attacked him had him feeling uncharacteristically vulnerable.

 

Forestalling Giles’ angry words, Buffy asked quietly, “Why didn’t you tell us that before?”

 

“How long were you plannin’ to keep me around after you knew everything I knew about those wankers?” he challenged her, watching the older man from the corner of his eyes.  “’S not like you took me in out of the kindness of your hearts, is it?  I needed some bargaining chips.”

 

“What other ‘chips’ might you be keeping from us?” Giles asked in a dangerously quiet voice.  “What else do you know that might provide Buffy with an added measure of safety when she confronts these men?”

 

“She shouldn’t be confrontin’ them!”  The humans in the room blinked in surprise at Spike’s vehement denial of the watcher’s plan and he cursed his own weakness in reacting as though he was still under the spell.

 

“Not that I am remotely interested in your opinion,” Giles responded angrily, “but what would you have us do?  Patrolling the Hellmouth is her job, regardless of what the source of the evil is.  These people need to be investigated and, if necessary, stopped before they do more harm.”

 

“Do you still not get that they will see her as another potential weapon? As something else to run their bloody ‘experiments’ on?  Don’t you bloody well care what happens to your slayer?” 

 

Spike’s indignant response had left his mouth before his brain had a chance to realize what he was going to say and if he could have blanched, he would have when he saw the dawning suspicion on the watcher’s face.  Carefully avoiding the slayer’s thunderstruck eyes that he could feel boring into his back, he quickly muttered, “She’s the only one here with a prayer of keeping those wankers off me.  Don’t want you sendin’ her out to get herself caged up.”

 

The other man visibly relaxed as Spike’s quick thinking eased his concerns about the vampire’s interest in Buffy.

 

“I do not want her “caged up” either,” he remarked mildly.  “However, we must find out what is going on in that place, and at the moment her relationship with the rather large young man appears to be our best avenue of pursuit.”

 

The incongruity of her watcher and her mortal enemy discussing how best to keep Buffy safe while sending her to do her job, kept the Slayer’s mouth shut as she listened to a quieter discussion of everything Spike could remember about the lab and its location.  As the vampire shared everything that he had been able to see and understand, it gradually became clear that beneath the bleached blond punk haircut, was a keen intelligence that none of them had ever suspected. As Buffy listened to the discussion between them, she began to realize how large a role luck, Spike’s desire to kill his third Slayer in a fair fight, and his inherent impulsivity had played in her ability to defeat him every time they met.  If the vampire’s self-control had been as strong as his fighting skills and intellect, the outcomes of their fights might have been very different.

 

 When Giles felt he had exhausted Spike’s ability to recall details about his time in the secret laboratory, he slumped back in his chair and shook his head wearily.

 

“This is obviously a government operation of some sort.   It’s too well-funded and protected to be anything else.  I’ll put the Council on alert and hope that they may be able to obtain information through their sources, while we will continue to explore options here.”

 

For the first time since Spike and Giles had begun talking, Buffy entered the conversation.

 

“I think Riley is our best option.  What if I come up with a way to let him find out what I am and what I know about him and tell him I want to join them? If they think I’m volunteering, they won’t want to cage me up, will they?  I mean, hey, Slayer on your side?  How can they refuse?”

 

Her watcher took his glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose as he reluctantly agreed.  “That might be the best course of action.  If you approach them as an ally, they should be less likely to view you as another ‘sub terrestrial’ to be controlled.  He turned to the vampire, shocking everyone when he asked sincerely, “What do you think, Spike?  Will they be likely to accept her if they know she is on the same side?”

 

Spike looked back and forth between them, weighing his words before speaking.

 

“I don’t know,” he finally admitted reluctantly.  ‘If the big git thinks he’s dating her, and if she can convince them that she isn’t some form of demon, she might be alright.  I’d stay away from the battle axe that runs the place, though, Slayer. She’s a right piece of work, she is.”

 

“She who?” Giles asked, adding to his notes from about the facility.

 

“Mostly they just call her ‘ma'am’… or ‘sir’,” he added with a smirk.  “But I think her name is something-Walsh.”

 

“Maggie Walsh?” Buffy’s voice had gone up an octave.  “As in our Psych professor, Maggie Walsh?”

 

Willow approached the vampire and asked urgently, “Short, brown hair, not a warm fuzzy person?”

 

Spike gave her an incredulous look.  “There’s nothing warm and fuzzy about somebody who wants to cut you to see how long it takes you to heal, Red; but, yeah, that sounds like the sadistic bitch.  College professor, huh?  And here I though Oxford had the market cornered on evil professors.”

 

Giles’ strangled “Oxford?” was lost in the dismay that followed the discovery that not only was their classroom TA one of the commandos, but their professor was apparently his commanding officer. Buffy and Willow exchanged looks while Anya began insisting that she and Xander leave so as not to be included if and when the soldiers came to get the Slayer and the witch.

 

While Xander tried to shush his girlfriend, Buffy looked at them through new eyes.

 

“I think she’s right, Xan,” she interrupted.  “Riley has no reason to think either of you are anything but normal humans – and if you stay away from him, and Anya keeps her mouth shut, there would be no reason for them include you if they decide to investigate us.  I think you two should stay away for a while.”

 

The boy’s face clouded as he responded to her perfectly reasonable suggestion.

 

“So, you don’t want my help? Is that it, Buffy?  Just send the ordinary humans away so they don’t get in the way?”  He made no attempt to hide the hurt in his voice, even as Anya nodded her agreement vigorously.

 

Stepping in quickly, Giles pointed out that if he and Buffy were to fall under suspicion, it could be useful to have someone who knew what was going on and who was free to contact the Council for them if necessary.  Somewhat mollified by the watcher’s explanation of how important it might be to have them uninvolved and therefore available to help if needed, Xander reluctantly agreed to distance himself from Buffy and Willow until it appeared safe.

 

Bidding his friends “good-night” and giving Spike a final glare, he took Anya’s arm and prepared to go back to his basement apartment, promising to stay away unless they needed his help. Spike’s snorted, “not bloody likely,” brought Xander flying back into the room, his fist flying out to hit the defenseless vampire, knocking him to the ground where Xander continued his assault by kicking viciously at him.

 

“Xander!”  Buffy’s shocked shout and her hand on his arm stopped him before he had gotten in more than a few solid blows to Spike’s body and he stopped, breathing hard and still glaring at the demon lying on the floor. Spike’s eyes promised painful retribution as he sat up, clutching at his ribs and snarling steadily.

 

Stepping between them, Buffy looked at Xander with wide eyes.

 

“What are you doing?  You know Spike can’t fight back.  If he needs to be smacked around, I’ll do it.”

 

Spike stopped snarling to wheeze, “That’s right, whelp. I’m the Slayer’s crippled vamp to pummel, not yours.  You’ve got no right to take it out on me jus’ because you’re jealous.”

 

“Shut up, Spike.”  Buffy’s tone told him she may have stopped Xander from hitting him, but was more than willing to do so herself.

 

“ ‘M jus’ sayin’, Slayer,” he growled, struggling to his feet. “If he wasn’t so jealous of what you and me have been doin’, he’d never have had the balls to touch me like that. Chip or no chip.”

 

“As if I would be jealous of you and a few kisses while Buffy was under a spell,” Xander defended himself.  At the look on Anya’s face, he quickly amended, “Not that I would be jealous even if there had been anything else, because, hey, beautiful girlfriend right here…” He put his arm around Anya and pulled her stiff body against his side.  “But there was nothing, was there, Buffy?”

 

“Of course not,” she said uncomfortably, turning away so as not to meet his eyes.  “We were never alone, Xander.  You know that.”

 

“Oh yes, you were,” Anya supplied helpfully.  “Remember when you two went into the bathroom to ‘talk’?  You were in there a long time.  I remember because Xander and I had time for two orgasms while you were gone.”

 

Spike’s smirk as he sank into the big chair in which he and Buffy had spent so much time together was as telling as the color that flooded the Slayer’s face.  He kept a wary eye on her watcher as he waited to see how she was going to handle the sudden revelation.

 

Willow’s gasped, “Oh, Buffy!  I’m so sorry!” did nothing to alleviate the situation; only making it clear that she had no trouble believing that more had taken place than anyone had originally thought. 

 

While everyone mentally reviewed Spike’s constant innuendo-laden baiting of the visibly embarrassed Slayer as well as her own behavior around the vampire since the spell ended, Buffy groaned silently.  Taking a deep breath and meeting Xander’s horrified eyes, she reluctantly admitted what she’d been fearing they would figure out.

 

“Okay, let’s get this out of the way.  Yes. I had sex with Spike.  No. I didn’t stake him because it wasn’t his fault any more than it was mine.” She paused to glare at a very repentant Willow. 

 

“But, Buffy!” Xander’s voice was anguished.  “It must have been awful! How could you not want to stake him now?”

 

“It wasn’t…awful, Xan.  We thought…we thought we were in love, okay? It happened. It’s over. No one was hurt by it.  If I can forget about it, you guys can forget about it.”

 

The expression on the boy’s face said very clearly that he would not be forgetting about it anytime soon, and he whirled, running out into the night without waiting for his bewildered girlfriend to follow.

 

“Well,” Spike said cheerfully. “That went well, don’t you think?”

 

“Shut up, Spike!” The force of having three potentially dangerous people saying the same thing at the same time was enough to quiet even Spike and he subsided to enjoy his small victory quietly.  

 

Didn’t quite get her to admit she liked it, but I can live with “it wasn’t awful”.  Now to see if I can find a way to make sure the soldier-boy knows that his escaped lab rat got into the slayer’s knickers before he did…

 

The end

 

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