“As I’m sure you have all done the reading, I won’t go into detail, but……”
Buffy struggled to focus on Professor Walsh’s lecture. She hadn’t been able to sleep after Spike had ended their little cuddle session. Instead, she had simply lain awake in bed, missing the comforting body that had been beside her. While it had been wonderful to just sit and talk, her body was currently telling her quite loudly that it needed some rest.
And that a boring, incomprehensible psychology class was just the place for a nice nap.
Buffy felt her head nodding, drifting lower and lower until it practically rested on her notebook. Just as she was about to give in, she noticed Professor Walsh was giving her a funny look. Uh-oh. Sleeping in the class of a teacher known as a heinous bitch = bad idea. Buffy sat up straight with a jolt.
However, no matter how interested in the lecture Buffy tried to seem (and she felt she was giving an Oscar worthy performance), Walsh still kept glancing her way. And giving her a funny look. Not majorly get-out-of-my-face funny, but just sort of freaky-staring-could-you-look-somewhere-else funny.
Huh. Whatever. Buffy shrugged off the weirdness (face it, on the hellmouth scale of weirdness, strange looks from your professor were low on the list), and went back to taking notes. Of course, her notes were less note-like than doodle-like. But doodling at least makes you look like you’re busy.
By the time class was over, she had a page of little hearts, all with stakes labeled Buffy + Spike sticking through them. As Buffy stood to leave, she ripped it out and tossed it into the waste basket. No way was she keeping that around for her friends to see. Or worse, Spike. He’d never let her hear the end of it.
Walsh watched Ms. Summers leave the lecture hall, observant eyes noting the discarded paper. She withheld a sigh. One more strike against the Slayer. Not only was she a paranormal and therefore slated for capture, but the girl didn’t even pay attention in class. Shameful. It’s a wonder that a fine, upstanding young man like Agent Finn was attracted to her in the first place.
Then she noticed exactly *how* Finn was watching the retreating figure. Specifically, the retreating figure’s swaying backside. Walsh suppressed another sigh. Men. It always amazed her they ruled the world.
“Follow her.” Finn nodded sharply and began to move after the hostile. Before he was gone, Walsh reminded him, “Remember, this is a fact finding mission only. Do not attempt to capture the hostile just yet. Understand?”
Riley moved to catch up with Buffy. On the way out the door, he spotted Buffy’s discarded drawing out of the corner of his eye. He picked it up and stared a moment at the silly, romantic doodlings. Then he proceeded to rip it into little pieces. Buffy and Spike. Not if he could help it.
Buffy walked back to her dorm, hoping to get a quick cat nap in before patrol tonight. She seriously needed it after staying up so late with Spike. Mmm, Spike. Hey, maybe she could invite Spike to patrol with her. A vamp is a good thing to have around, right? And of course she would have to extend her patrol route to contain that little restaurant with the super-size ice cream sodas. Now that she thought about it, it was definitely looking kind of shady. Who knew how many evil, bloodsucking vampires also had ice cream soda cravings?
At this thought, Buffy’s steps picked up a little skip as she continued to make her way back to the dorm.
Riley tried to keep the hostile in his sights, following as close as he dared. It wouldn’t do for him to be spotted by her. His entire focus was on that single target. On the bitch who had been screwing with his mind and heart for the past few months. Saying yes to him while having that, that *vampire* on the side. Proclaiming herself a hero when she was no better than the very scum he hunted every night.
He hoped Walsh would allow him to watch the testing. On *both* hostiles, Slayer and vampire. He’d make that bitch see you couldn’t treat a human like that. Couldn’t yank them around and expect them to smile as you dirtied yourself with a demon. Because all that made you was another demon for him to hunt down.
Riley’s fists clenched as he thought about what was coming for Bu – no, Hostile 95. So caught up in his vengeance was he, Riley ignored everything that wasn’t his target until –
“Watch where you’re going!”
Riley collided with a pretty brunette, causing her to drop her bag and spill her books everywhere. She bent down to pick them up, all the while glaring at the jerk who’d just smacked into her.
“Are you blind or something? Because seriously, how else could you run into me? There’s plenty of room here for the both of us!” The brunette carefully picked up her scattered possessions. “I’m lucky you didn’t hurt me, the way you were going.”
Under the onslaught of her glare, Riley started stuttering his apologies while trying to help her gather her things. “I’m sorry, I didn’t even see you.” He brushed dirt off a stack of papers and handed them to her, giving his best forgive-me-I’m-cute smile.
That backfired. “What, is this sort of lame pick up line? Get a life, loser.” She made the appropriate L sign with her hand, then turned it into a more obscene gesture. Riley started stuttering even more apologies as the girl snatched her papers away and stormed off. Before she was gone, he heard her mutter (quite loudly), “Jackass.”
After she had gone, Riley stood still for a moment, trying to remember in which direction the hostile had been heading. Unfortunately, he had forgotten. Bitch was safe, for now. He turned to report his failure to Walsh. She wouldn’t be happy.
Following a refreshing three hour nap, Buffy stood in front of her closet and debated what to wear for patrol. There were so many choices.
First there was her cute red tube top. But it looked like it might be a little cool tonight, so maybe something with sleeves would be good. Buffy reached in and pulled out a v-neck three quarter sleeve shirt (also red) and debated on that. Unfortunately, the fabric tended to snag on well, everything. She dropped that option and started rifling through the clothing rack for something better.
No. Not that one, too plain. The discard pile grew. That one was too sexy – this was patrolling, after all (yeah right, tell yourself another one, her bad voice whispered, give in and go sexy!). Buffy decided to give in and picked up the discarded tube top. If she got cold, she could bully Spike into lending his coat.
Next step – skirt vs. pants. Khaki vs. black leather. Cute vs. sexy. Aah! Too many choices!
While Buffy frantically searched for the perfect outfit to patrol/date Spike in, Willow entered the room.
At the sudden noise, Buffy jerked up, her head hitting the closet ceiling. “Ow!”
Willow scurried over. “You okay?”
Buffy leaned against the wall, rubbing the injured spot. “I’ve had worse. Way to go stealthy, Wills. Taking lurk lessons from Spike?”
“Nah. You’re the one who’s big with the Spike togetherness lately.” Willow took in the disorganized pile of clothing strewn all over the room. “Date tonight?”
“Date? Uh-uh.” Buffy quickly hid the red shirt behind her back. “No dating funness for Buffy. Just patrol.”
“And you often turn the room upside down for the perfect patrolling outfit?” Willow raised her eyebrow as Buffy started fumbling for words. “Buffy, I know about you and Spike. So the being all secretivey about dating him? Big with the pointlessness. Unless, you know, you like being secretive. In which case I can pretend you *don’t* look like you’re going out to have the smoochies with Spike.”
“But I’m not!”
Willow stared at her.
Buffy shrugged. “Well, I will patrol,” she tried to defend herself. “I’ll just bring Spike along with.”
“And the smoochies?”
She smiled. “Maybe. We are married, after all,” Buffy added with a wink. Willow smiled back. “So, important question – what to wear?”
Willow studied her friend a moment before saying, “Red shirt, black leather pants, boots with slight heels. Sexy-but-practical.”
Walsh sipped her coffee and watched the viewscreen. A ‘random electrical maintenance’ check on the dorm had ensured that a small camera was secreted in the room of Buffy Summers and Willow Rosenberg. If she wanted to do this properly, she would have to send a team back to install an audio transmitter, but she was a bit pressed for time as is. Her desire to capture and begin testing on Hostiles 17 and 95 was hard to suppress. Once some preliminary information had been gathered, then the teams would be sent out.
Another sip. Walsh grimaced slightly at the taste and made a mental note to ask the supply office for more sugar. It appeared that Hostile 95 was discussing something with Rosenberg. Walsh calculated the odds of it involving the relationship with Hostile 17 at 94.7%, given the presence of clothing suitable for a romantic encounter scattered about the room. Was Summers planning on meeting her vampire later that night? That would be ……useful. If she could gain information on their interactions in their natural habitat, she would begin to fulfill her primary goal with this pair.
Hostile 95 was beginning to change into the selected outfit while Rosenberg made herself scarce. Walsh overheard a quick intake of breath from behind. She flicked her eyes over at Agent Finn, returned from his abortive tracking of Hostile 95. He was a good soldier, but sometimes lacked a certain creativity. Namely, the inability to simply go to the dorm and wait for Summers to show after losing sight of her.
Hmm. Should she allow him to continue tracking Hostile 95 or give the task to more experienced personnel? A difficult decision. It was obvious that Finn was rather obsessed with the Slayer, which meant his morale would increase if he was allowed to continue. However, a degree of stealth and inventiveness were needed to properly complete the mission.
Walsh turned her head to observe Agent Finn. His eyes were focused on the hostile, who was currently slipping into a scandalously tight shirt. Her lips pursed in disapproval, both at the outfit and her agent’s behavior. The sight made up her mind.
“Finn, I want you to lead tonight’s sweep of the area. Behave as usual and avoid contact with the designated hostiles unless necessary.”
“But this is *my* job!” Finn protested hotly. “Mine. You can’t let some – ”
“I wasn’t aware this was a democracy,” Walsh snapped. “Your orders are to patrol. Understand?”
Finn watched the now fully dressed hostile leave the room before gritting out, “Yes ma’am.”
“Good. Complete this simple assignment successfully and I might return control of the hostile captures to you. Dismissed.”
He nodded slightly, turned about, and marched out of the office. Walsh sighed. Finn was acting more volatile than expected. The matter of Buffy Summers needed to be addressed as soon as possible; she couldn’t allow for repeats of this sort. The best thing would be to put a more qualified officer on the job. Walsh hit the intercom button.
“Agent Gates to my office. Now.”
An excellent choice, she told herself. Gates had just the right touch for jobs like this.
Buffy slipped out of the dorm just after sunset, dressed to kill (literally and figuratively). She’d taken Willow’s advice and gone with the red shirt and pants. A search through her closet had turned up a pair of boots with just enough heel to make her legs look good.
Spike was definitely going to sit up and pay attention, she thought with a satisfied smile.
Forrest watched Hostile 95 leave. He counted to ten, then followed. It pleased him that Walsh and Finn were finally taking action against the Slayer. To let an unauthorized paranormal free reign went against the natural order of things.
With a stealthy grace, he tracked the hostile to whatever destination it had in mind.
It wasn’t long after Anya had finally left that Spike had succumbed to sleep. Long lazy dreams of him and the Slayer had visited him, delicious images of kisses and so much more flowing through his mind. Now he slowly woke up, his internal clock sensing the setting sun. The last dream had been particularly pleasurable, involving a giant feather bed and the creative use of silk scarves.
Spike took in a deep breath, enjoying the dream echoes of Buffy’s scent that still lingered. His eyes snapped open the instant he realized the smell wasn’t as much an echo as a loud sound in his ear.
Buffy was standing right there, shouting his name.
“Spike? You awake? Spike?”
“If I wasn’t awake, I would be now,” he grumbled while rolling easily to his feet. “Can’t you turn it down a little? No need to shout.”
“I wasn’t shouting,” she protested, “I was just getting your attention.”
Buffy opened her mouth to argue then shut it. Spike took advantage of the silence to stumble over to the refrigerator and snag some blood. She followed and continued the argument, only this time changing tactics.
“So what if I was shouting? It’s after sunset. You should get up anyway.”
Spike snorted as he poured a glass. “And I’m sure you’re just *thrilled* when someone wakes you up at the crack of dawn. Have to remember that. Maybe I’ll come by tomorrow – when’s sunrise? ‘Round five o’clock or so?”
Buffy was unable to come up with a good comeback. She pouted instead. Then wrinkled her nose when she realized just what his version of a morning pick-me-up was.
“Is that blood?”
Spike gave her a ‘duh’ look.
“It looks disgusting.”
Spike downed the glass quickly and grimaced. “It is. Unfortunately, I can’t exactly be drinking the good stuff right now, can I?”
“Which is a good thing. If you were back on the Happy Meals with Legs diet, I’d have to kill you.”
Spike set the empty glass down and turned towards her. “You know I’d win if it came to – ” he finally noticed what she was wearing, “ – that.” Spike was silent for a moment, lost in appreciation for the tight red shirt and tighter pants. He quickly began to make calculations on the best way to remove them the instant the opportunity occurred.
Buffy smiled. Willow wins the dress your Buffy doll contest tonight, she decided, given the gleam in Spike’s eyes. She decided to allow him a few more seconds of ogling before sashaying away. Over her shoulder, she told him, “Spike, you’re welcome to your delusions, but *I* would win.”
“You would not!” he finally responded, after his mind left the happy place that tight pants + sashay equaled. “Practically beat you the first time, didn’t I?”
“But you didn’t.”
“Only because your mother whacked me a good one with an ax,” Spike pointed out. “Otherwise you’d be one dead Slayer right now.”
“Then it’s a good thing she came along when she did, o husband of mine.”
“True, o wife of mine,” he mimicked. They shared a smile. A split second later, Spike added, “But that still means I would win.”
Buffy decided the best retort was to stick out her tongue. Spike wished he were close enough to take advantage of the come-on. He slowly started to walk towards her.
“Tell me, love, why’d you stop by tonight?”
Buffy shrugged, a little too casually. “Thought you might like to patrol.”
“I might,” Spike answered, just as casually. “But that can’t be the only reason. You don’t get so dressed up to patrol with Xander, do you?”
“Sometimes I do.”
Spike was almost upon her. “Bet Anya wouldn’t be too keen on that,” he teased.
“She told me I could if I would be willing to experiment with a threesome,” Buffy told him with a straight face.
“Hope you turned her down,” he told her, now standing mere inches away. “I like to have you all to myself.” He bent slightly to steal a kiss.
Only to find himself spinning as Buffy grabbed him and pinned him to the wall.
Buffy’s lips brushed his ear. “See? Told you I would win.” She released him with a giggle, quickly turning to sprint out of his crypt.
Spike recovered and chased after her. “Slayer, you cheated!”
She called back, “Did not!”
“Did too! You used your feminine wiles on me!” Spike shouted as he followed her. Buffy only laughed and kept running. Neither of them ran at top speed; the chase was for fun only. Buffy fully intended to get ‘caught’ – but only after she decided. Spike fully intended to ‘catch’ her –just before she decided. They scampered through the cemetery a bit, Buffy letting Spike get close, only to sprint again.
Spike was about ready to put in a burst of vampiric speed when a sharp crackle ripped through the air. The two stopped as one and dropped into a warrior’s stance. Game over, Buffy gestured Spike to follow her to find out what was going on. Slowly and quietly, they crept along.
And came to a clearing where several Initiative boys were bagging a demon. Buffy didn’t recognize its species – loose pale skin with floppy ears. As they dragged a net around it, Buffy almost felt sorry for it; it didn’t look that dangerous. But you never could tell with demons. While she stood and watched, Spike tugged urgently at her arm.
“They got Clem,” he murmured, nodding at the captured demon.
“And Clem is……?” Buffy whispered back.
“Friend of mine. Plays a good hand of poker, even if he cheats a bit.”
“You know I can’t just go rescue your evil demon friends just because they’re your friends.”
Spike rolled his eyes and resisted the urge to growl. “How about this then? Clem’s not a danger to anybody. Well, except for the odd kitten or two.”
“Then why is the Initiative taking him?” Buffy asked, but she was already moving to intercept them, willing to give Spike the benefit of the doubt.
“Do you really have to ask?” Spike muttered. He was surprised Buffy hadn’t figured out yet that the Initiative wasn’t too picky on who they kidnapped.
Buffy stepped into the clearing. Deciding the best thing would be to *not* pick a fight with the men with the big shiny guns, she simply cleared her throat and said, “Hey guys, I think you’ve got a bit of a mistake going here.”
The Initiative soldiers dropped their prey and brought weapons at ready as the new threat presented herself. Buffy held up her hands in the classic ‘no trouble here’ gesture.
“Now, I know you don’t want to go around performing experiments on the non-evil members of the population, so could you just leave the poor guy alone?”
Spike emerged from the brush beside her. He was tempted to say something, but decided it would be best to see how Buffy handled it. Soldier boys would be more likely to listen to her, anyway. Though something was bothering him –
One soldier stepped forward, a quick gesture with his rifle telling the others to stand down. Riley. Spike tried not to snarl.
“Buffy,” Riley said tersely, the barest of acknowledgements. “What are you doing here?”
“Trying to get a friend out of trouble,” Buffy responded pleasantly. Okay, so this Clem guy wasn’t exactly a friend. But somehow she had a feeling that saying he was Spike’s friend would make this worse.
“Your ‘friend’ is a demon,” he retorted. Riley felt his lip curl up in disgust. Hostile 95 fraternized with all kinds of disgusting creatures, he realized. He started to scan the area forhidden allies of the hostile. Now was an excellent opportunity to capture both Hostile 95 and 17, regardless of what Walsh wanted.
Spike noticed Riley’s actions and tensed, preparing for battle. However, Buffy was oblivious to the subtext and continued her argument.
“I sort of noticed. But he’s a good demon, so it doesn’t matter.” Actually, Buffy wasn’t too sure about the existence of good demons. But she didn’t think this one was exactly evil, either. Now that she thought about it, she’d seen him in Willy’s before. He never caused her any trouble (and most of Willy’s regulars had, at one point or another).
“A good demon.” Riley’s tone conveyed all the disbelief he felt. “I don’t think so.” He motioned for the men to pick up the still unconscious Clem.
Buffy sighed. She had hoped Riley would be reasonable about this. “I wasn’t aware I was giving you an option about this. Release the demon.” As she said those words, she thought, You had better be worth this, Clem.
Riley was glad the darkness hid his exultant grin. He wouldn’t even have to fake his report! The demon-slut and her vampire were right in his grasp. How nice of Buffy to make her capture so easy for him. He prepared to give his men the signal to open fire.
Hidden some distance away, but still in visual range of the ongoing crisis, Forrest called in the situation to Walsh. It had been easy enough to track Hostile 95 from her dorm to her lover’s crypt, though their subsequent flirtatious banter had disgusted him. His stomach turned at the thought his best friend had ever wanted this demon-lover. He was tempted to allow Riley to take both down tonight, as Riley was obviously planning to do. But Walsh wanted them to wait, so additional orders were required.
In her office, Walsh debated on the best course of action. Part of her wanted Finn to continue with the capture he undoubtedly had planned, but she decided against that course of action. No, it would be better to let one measly little demon go and observe the Slayer/Vampire pair longer. She activated her link to Finn’s communicator. This would serve as a test of his loyalty as well.
“Stand down, Finn. Give the Slayer her demon; we can take them later. I don’t want any trouble tonight.”
Riley was barely able to restrain a roar of frustration as the order came in. He wanted so badly to ignore it and shoot the bitch like she deserved and stake that vampire a thousand times over. But his training won out.
As Riley ordered the release of the prisoner, he promised himself he would make Buffy pay when the time came. Oh, she would pay.
Buffy tried not to sigh with relief as the bonds around Clem were cut. He was slowly coming to, groaning all the while. She bent down and pulled him away from the soldiers, giving them a smile and a “Thanks for understanding.” There had been a tense couple of seconds, but it seemed her relationship with Riley wasn’t as shot to hell as she had thought.
Spike had a much better idea of how close they had come to death or worse. He continued glaring at the soldiers until they were gone. While Buffy helped Clem up, he scanned the area for further danger. Possibly a surprise attack from Soldier Boy; he wouldn’t put it past him.
By now, Clem was fully conscious and quite grateful. “I don’t know what I was thinking going out alone. You hear stories about those guys but you never think it’ll happen to you, you know? Boy am I glad you came along, Spike.” To the strange blonde girl, he added politely, “And you too.” A second later, his eyes widened. “Hey, you’re the Slayer!”
“So I am,” Buffy said, amused. Clem seemed pretty nice, for a demon.
“What’re you doing hanging around a vamp like Spike for? Not that it’s any of my business,” Clem backpedaled hastily. It’d be real stupid to escape one danger only to piss off another. “It’s just that I thought Spike was married and all, and I don’t know that – ”
“She is my wife,” Spike said abruptly. He added, “Let’s get out of here. Don’t want to take my chances again with the great git and company.”
“We have Riley to thank for letting Clem go.”
“No, we don’t. He was about to shoot us too, but something changed. Don’t know what, but I don’t like it.” Spike started to leave. Clem trotted behind him, mind still spinning from the revelation that bad ole Spike got himself hitched to a Slayer.
“Riley would never shoot me!” Buffy protested. “You’re making that up just because you don’t like him.”
He snorted. “I don’t. For good reason. He hates me, and maybe you too.”
“We used to date, for crying out loud,” she snapped. “Why would he hate me?”
Spike checked the points off his fingers. “Lied about being married; only had sex with him while possessed – both times may I add; not to mention the whole you let demons live thing. Anyone can tell that really pisses him off.”
“Whoa, you had sex with that guy?” Clem interjected.
“Not intentionally,” Buffy defended herself. “It just sort of happened.”
“That’s the problem. Love, the man’s a time bomb about to go off. Almost went off tonight. We just got lucky.”
“No, we didn’t. Riley may not like you, and he may have problems with me, but he’s a good guy. He’ll do the right thing.”
“No, he won’t.”
“Yes, he will.”
Spike realized this was one argument he couldn’t win until Finn was in front of her with bloody hands standing over an innocent body. With a growl, he said, “Forget this. Let’s go.”
“Let’s not. We have to talk about this.”
“I said it’s over.”
“Well I say it’s not!”
Clem looked from one angry face to another before quietly saying, “You’ve obviously got some stuff you want to talk about, so I’ll just be going, thanks for the rescue and everything.” He started to slip away, before things erupted.
“No, you’re not. We’ll see you home safely. Didn’t bloody well save you from the soldier boys to get you captured again.”
Buffy nodded, agreeing with Spike. “What he said.”
“Really, I don’t want to be a bother……”
“Clem, let’s go.” Spike’s voice ended the discussion.
The argument temporarily over, the three went off into the night. Behind them, a dark figure followed, dogging their every step.