Chapter Three

The Bronze. Spike slouched against a wall, occasionally taking a sip from his beer (American, unfortunately). Before he'd lost his bite, so to speak, he would have been trolling for a meal. Plenty of bubble gum girls happy to follow the sexy guy with an accent into a dark alley. Just pick some girl, smile at her, flirt a bit, and then, have yourself a proper meal. He smiled at the thought, mouth tingling at the memory of all that warm, delicious blood just waiting for him to drink. None of this pig swill. The real stuff, hot and rich and powerful. Slayer blood.

Mmm, Slayer blood. Pity he hadn't gotten a taste while she was under Red's spell (oh but he had - passionate kisses, fangs descending, a tongue slips and is cut, shy smile and a whisper, "go ahead", sweet sweet blood). That taste had gotten him even hornier. And then the motel room -

Lost in his memories, he almost didn't see Buffy come in with a boy. But sure enough, there she was, dancing with a big block of a boy. It was almost amusing watching them. Buffy was twisting to the music, her innate grace evident, obviously caught up in the beat. The brick wall was standing near her, attempting to match her skill and so obviously failing. He finally gave up and slid behind Buffy, curving his arms around her to hold her close as she continued dancing.

Spike growled. It was one thing to watch the wanker's pathetic attempts to dance, but this! What was he thinking, pawing her, touching her? Buffy was HIS! His Slayer. His wife. 'Till death do us part and all that rot. What was she thinking, for that matter? Dancing with a bloke who wasn't her husband. Not just dancing. No, sliding along his body, swaying her hips, doing little shimmies like some cheap whore.

Spike made his way over to Buffy and the idiot, with only one thought in his head, "MINE!"

Halfway there, he stopped. Why did he care what the Slayer did? Who the Slayer did? Some spell makes them get hitched and now it's his business? HELL YES! Be it bond of mortal enemies or matrimony, he was going to stake his claim.

Mind made up, he marched over to confront his wife.



Buffy leaned against Riley, enjoying the sound of his steady, beating heart. The warmth of his body gave her a nice, comfy feeling. His arms were holding her close - and they were very nice arms. The sweet awkwardness he'd displayed earlier was nice, too. This whole date had been - nice.

She wondered when the other shoe would drop. Where was the demon? The sudden attack that would destroy her tranquil evening? When would he turn out to be a vampire or a demon or a psycho robot?

And why was she hoping that would happen? That SOMETHING would happen? Why was she so BORED?!

Not to self - NEVER wish for something to happen. Spike was striding towards her, a seriously pissed off expression on his face. As a rule, Buffy didn't care if Spike was cranky. But if he and Riley talked, there went her nice normal boyfriend. Somehow "yeah, I'm married," always sent them running.

Okay, quick, Buffy. Plan of action. Get Riley to leave so you can go kick Spike's ass and make him go away.

"Riley, could you get me a drink?" she asked, turning slightly in his arms. Smiling, she added, "All this dancing is making me thirsty."

Riley, sweet guy that he is, grinned, "Sure. What do you want?"

"Um," Spike was almost upon them, "a diet coke?"


Buffy let out a sigh of relief as he went to order her drink. With him safely gone, she turned around to face Spike.

"What the hell are you doing here?" she hissed.

Spike smirked. "Watcher cut me loose. Said I was annoying him." His tone changed. "Who was that?"

"None of your business."

"None of my business? In case you've forgotten, Slayer, we're married. You're dancing like a bitch in heat with another guy. It IS my business."

"I am so not a bitch in heat!" Buffy protested. "Only a perv like you would say that. Not like it matters. In case you've forgotten, bleach brain, it was a SPELL."

"That's your excuse? Oh, it was a spell, I'll just go act like a slut now. But wait, you did that before Red's spell. How many have notches have you racked up on the ole headboard, luv?" Spike looked her over, eyes lingering on all the interesting places, "Have to say, never thought I'd be one of them. Tell me, Slayer, did you give it the poof like that?"

Buffy flushed under his stare and the memories it aroused. The few hours she had spent with Spike had definitely been the most sexually adventurous in her life. Angel and Parker had nothing on Spike in that department. And apparently Spike wasn't unimpressed with his share, either...

Stop it, bad voice. Spike & sex thoughts are to be stopped immediately. Riley will be coming back any minute now, so GET RID OF HIM!

Who? Bad voice couldn't help a last parting shot. Riley or Spike?

Ignoring her bad voice, she snapped, "Get over yourself, Spike. I've already talked to a lawyer. We'll be divorced as soon as he can arrange it."

"Doesn't matter. Until then, you're mine," he growled.

Do all guys have this giant, inner Neanderthal? Even bad voice was pissed at Spike now.

"I am in no way, shape, or form yours, Spike," she hissed back. "You are just a pathetic vampire I'm not staking because it's no fun to kill a neutered loser like you. That's it. Anything else is all in your head."

"So you won't mind if I introduce myself to the git, will you? Make sure he understands he's dating a married woman?"

"Do it and you're dust."

"Wonder how that's going to look, killing your lawfully wedded husband."

"You should be careful, Spikey. One quick thrust and this whole mess will disappear."

Leering, Spike angled his head to get a better view down her top. "That a promise, luv?"

"You bet it is," Buffy snapped back, too caught up in the argument to notice Spike's focus.

"Ooh, I love it when you talk dirty to me." Spike grinned. This was starting to get fun! He wondered how long he could keep baiting her without getting staked.

"You pervert!" Balls, she picked up on the innuendo. And possibly the cleavage peeking. Spike knew he should start retreating, but he couldn't help himself.

"C'mon, Slayer, you know you like it."

Countdown to nose punch begins. Five, four, three, two, o-

"Buffy, is this guy bothering you?" Riley had arrived, ready to play the role of protective boyfriend.

Inwardly, Buffy was pouting. Riley's arrival squelched all current nose punching opportunities. Not to mention, sparring with Spike was always FUN! In a bad, will deny if ever asked, way.

"He's no one important. Let's go." Buffy grabbed Riley's arm and steered him away. Dealing with Spike would have to wait until later.

Spike watched them go, his anger returning with full force at the reappearance of the brick wall. Didn't Buffy see what an utter git that guy was? He looked like a cheap Angel knock off. Big and brawny, probably had the intellect of a flea. The sort that Spike wouldn't bite even if he could, for fear of contracting terminal stupidity.

Just look at them. What was the Slayer doing with a guy like that? Idiot was acting like he was the big strong manly man. Didn't he see she was a warrior? She didn't need to be treated like some china doll; she needed to be given a challenge. She needed someone who would fight her every step of the way and love every minute of it.

Someone like him.

Spike scowled. Where did that thought come from? He hated the Slayer. Really, he did. All he wanted to do was bite into her neck and drink deep. Anything else was just to pass the time until he had one good lay. Er, day. One good day. Until he killed the Slayer and danced on her grave.

So why did he want to rip the git from Buffy's side and take his place? Had to be a territorial thing. Yeah, that's why. Dru goes and cheats on you, so the next time you've got a claim on a girl, you get extra sensitive. Standard vampire territorial instincts. Nothing to do with memories of spell-induced love and being happy just by making her happy and wanting to compose poetry for a sun-gold goddess. Nothing at all.

He wondered how many beers it would take before he believed that.


Ever the gentleman, Riley insisted on walking Buffy back to campus. Buffy couldn't decide to be touched by his concern or annoyed by his patronizing attitude, 'a gentleman always takes care of a lady'. Okay, so he wasn't up with the fact she was the Slayer. But did he have to treat her like a complete weakling in need of a big strong man? That was so last century.

After some serious consideration, she decided it was sweet and endearing. Definitely not something that a certain bleached blond would do. Of course, that's because he knows damn well that she didn't need protecting. And why was she comparing Spike to Riley?

"So, uh, the band was good, wasn't it?"

"What?" Buffy hadn't been paying attention. Riley had been talking?

"The band. At the Bronze. Was good."

"Oh, yeah, it was pretty good."

"You go there often?"

"The Bronze? Ever since I moved to Sunnydale. Pretty much the only place worth going to around here."

"Oh, when did you move here?"

Yawn. Could this conversation get more boring? And would it be like this all the way back to the dorm?

Thankfully, a scream ripped through the air. Buffy started to takeoff in that direction, before remembering her companion. Crap, how was she going to dump Riley?

"Uh, Buffy, it's been a nice night but I have to go now. Bye!"

"Riley, I had a great time but I just remembered something I had to do!"

Simultaneously apologizing, the two headed off in different directions.

Once she was out of Riley's sight, Buffy sprinted to where the scream came from. It was one of those countless back alleys of Sunnydale. A young woman was struggling with a drunken frat boy. Looks like yet another vampire trying to have dinner.

Buffy yanked the woman off the frat boy. "Go!" she snapped, sending the boy running. He staggered away as fast as he could, leaving Buffy to face the vampire.

The vamp glared at Buffy, bloodied fangs gleaming in the streetlight. "You stole my meal, Slayer."

Buffy rolled her eyes and sighed. "And you broke up my date. We can't have everything."

The vampire hissed and lunged at her. Buffy responded by a quick one-two punch, followed by throwing the vamp into the wall. The vamp bounced back, getting in a good hit across the chin. The two battled for a few moments. The vampire wasn't more than a fledgling, but Buffy was in the mood for a good fight. After all, she was still pumped from her interrupted bout with Spike (thanks a lot, Riley).

While she toyed with the vampire, Spike watched from the shadows. He'd abandoned his plans for getting drunk in favor of following the Slayer. Ostensibly to see what she did with Riley. Anyone who suggested it was to look out for her was welcome to jump off a cliff.

It was fun to watch her in action. Ever since he sent that idiot of a vampire after the Slayer all those years ago, he'd enjoyed the skills she displayed in combat. To his experienced eye, it was obvious she was in no trouble at all and was merely letting the battle draw out for the fun of it. Spike always appreciated that she didn't mind a good spot of violence. One of her more attractive traits, that.

However, Buffy found herself getting tired of trading blows. Pulling out her stake, she unceremoniously dusted the vamp. She didn't even bother with one of her trademark quips.

With the vampire dusted, she turned to leave. Then paused. Buffy peered into the shadows; her senses telling her she was being watched. Spike slid back, deeper into the darkness. Seeing no one, she shrugged and continued on her way.

Spike followed her every step of the way.


"Sir, this is where we detected the hostile."

"But there's nothing here."

"No bodies. But sensors identify some debris as that of a recently destroyed hostile."

"What could have happened? This isn't the first time we've seen this."

"Unknown, Sir. There may be another HST we have not identified with this MO."

"Possible. I want you to look into that."

"Yes, Sir."

Agent Riley Finn sighed as the recruit marched off to look into the newest mystery. He had too many issues to juggle. Keeping his identity secret from Buffy. Finding the escaped Hostile 17. And now, determining exactly what else was attacking the HSTs. He would not enjoy reporting this to Walsh. She wanted results, and she wanted them yesterday.