Chapter Four

There had to be a law somewhere banning Slayers from uncomplicated lives. Buffy was convinced this was true. There was no other explanation for this.

Riley was one of those commando guys.

Come on! What were the odds that the main demon hunter, the Slayer, would end up dating a member of another demon hunting group, with both parties totally unaware of the other's activities. Normally, she'd say 'snowball's chance in hell'. Huh. This is the Hellmouth, after all.

Riley was just sitting on Willow's bed, still floored from realizing she knew who he was. Buffy allowed herself a few more minutes of sulking over loss of normal boyfriend. Sulk sulk sulk.

"So what are you?"

And now Riley gives his comeback. Buffy stopped sulking.

"The Slayer."


Hey, that's insulting. Demon hunting guy hadn't heard of her? Fledges just out of the grave knew her!

"Y'now, the Slayer. The Chosen One. She who hangs out in cemeteries a lot." Riley was still lost. "The one girl chosen to fight the demons."

Riley was now giving her a strange look. "I've heard some stories about her. Myths, mostly. I thought the Slayer was a demon, if she was real."

"Yup. The Slayer is real. But not a demon," Buffy gave him a big smile, "do I look like a demon to you?"

"I don't know. First you're this cute college girl I'm dating, and now you're some sort of chosen protector? Were you ever going to tell me?"

"I wasn't the only one lying, here. You were supposed to be my Joe Normal boyfriend, not some military soldier guy!"

"My orders said I have to keep my identity secret!"

"So do mine! Well, when I actually took orders, it did. It's not something you exactly go up and announce to somebody!"

"So what will this be then? Sorry, we can't date because we do the same thing?"

Buffy sighed. "I don't know, Riley. You threw me for a loop. Can't we just take a break and figure this out? I like you, I really do. It's just - "

"Fine. You make up your mind, you know where to find me. And Buffy? Don't tell anyone."

"I won't if you won't."

He left. Buffy waited until he was down the hall before she let out a scream of frustration. WHY? Her life was already screwed up enough. This thing about Riley made her mess even messier.

Buffy stomped over to the mini fridge and pulled out a pint of triple chocolate ice cream. Stabbing her spoon into the tub, she pondered her mixed up life.

Take Riley, for example. Prior to any commando guy revelations, she'd seen him as this nice, easygoing guy she could date. Maybe not the future love of her life, but someone to go out and have a good time with. A nice, NORMAL boyfriend. Nothing special, just some no pressure, non- slayerly, fun.

Now he belongs to some military group called the Initiative. What kind of name was the Initiative, anyway, asked the head of the Scooby Gang. Were they good guys? Bad guys? They went after demons, which was good. But the whole capturing and performing experiments part, that wasn't so good.

Buffy had nothing against going after the forces of darkness. But SHE did it straight on and made a clean kill. No neutering of the vampires for her.

Speaking of neutered vampires, we now go into the Spike issue. Buffy ate a big spoonful of ice cream to fortify herself. Even he agreed that their marriage was a joke. Then why oh why did he get so possessive? Like last night. Riley was about to kiss her, and Spike just got this LOOK. She didn't know how to describe it - jealous, angry, resentful, protective, loving?

It was as if Spike wanted to take Riley's place. Maybe that's why she had stopped the kiss, because he cared. Or because she cared. Or they both cared. Or something. And if she did - care - why was she even considering Riley?

More ice cream required. Unfortunately, the phone interrupted her sulk fest.


Giles' voice greeted her on the other end. "You have to come over, Buffy. It's the end of the world."



Bunch of demons wanted to bring about the apocalypse. Didn't they realize that if the world ended, they'd die too? That part always got to Buffy - what made the demon of the week think HE was immune to world endage? Seriously.

Such were Buffy's thoughts as she entered Porter House. When you were on your fourth or fifth apocalypse, you didn't really do Panic Mode. It was more of a Here-We-Go-Again Mode. Um, where did Willow say to look? Her friend had heard about a murder at Porter, apparently with a funky symbol on his chest. Combined with a bunch of ritualistic hoo-ha that Giles kept track of, this meant pre-apocalyptic signs.

Her mission was to find out what the funky symbol looked like. Time to practice her oh-so-wonderful interviewing skills.

" - Whoever killed him must have been a real nut. There were, like, pictures drawn all over him."

"Did you see it?"

"Uh-huh. He died in our room. That's just plain freaky. I mean, what if I'd been there?"

Ah-hah! Witnesses. Buffy bee lined over to talk to the two guys.

"What happened?"

"Didn't you hear? Bart got himself offed by some sicko," Bart's roomie told her.

His friend nodded and added, "There was this thing on his chest, y'know?"

Bingo! "What did it look like?"

The two guys stared at her. Getting girls using their newfound notoriety sounded cool, but this one was just plain freaky. Of course, it didn't occur to them that girls interested in the friends of dead guys would be freaky. Bart's roomie demanded, "Why do you care?"

"Yeah, what are you, some kind of creepy chick?"

Buffy gave them her best don't mess with me smile. Normally, she'd be polite about this. But she was having a bad day. "Yes, I'm some kind of creepy chick. What. Did. It. Look like?"

Maybe their recent brush with death had revived some brain cells. Bart's roomie shrugged and sketched something on a piece of paper. As soon as he was done, Buffy snatched it out of his hand and marched back out the door.

"Man, that chick's screwy."

"Yeah, but she's hot."


"Here ya go, Giles. Courtesy of Demony Symbols 'R Us."

Giles distractedly took the paper from Buffy. She flopped onto the couch, noting how the room had taken on a distinctively Scooby feel. Meaning, bunch of moldy books spread around with donut boxes located at key intervals. Ooh! Donuts. Jelly? Or not. Oh well, maybe after her ice cream binge it was for the best.

"I keep thinking I've seen that somewhere," Buffy remarked as she examined the donut box, looking for a glazed. Cause those are so light, it's not like you're eating REAL food, right?

Giles ignored her. He did know that by ignoring her, he was FORCING her to eat this donut? Mmm, donut.

"Ah HAH!"

Couldn't he have done that BEFORE she'd eaten the donut?

"The sacrifice of three. So those are the items. Buffy, you'll have to hurry on it, they most likely have them already."

"Have what?"

"Blood of the man, we're certain on that, bones of a child are easily gotten, and the Word of Valios. Last one's a bit shaky, have to check on that. 'When combined with the sacrifice of three, the Hellmouth shall be opened and the end shall begin'."

"Just tell me what to kill, Giles."

"Nothing, yet. They can't perform the ritual until midnight. I'd suggest looking for the word of Valios. See if you can get it before they do."

"And that would be where?"

"The museum, maybe. The text is rather vague on exactly what the Word of Valios is, precisely. Try looking for a rare book or something with words. And take the others with you. The more searching, the better."


"Would you stop laughing?!"

Buffy couldn't help herself. Spike. In a Hawaiian shirt and Bermuda shorts. This was better than Bozo the Clown.

"Stop it!"

Oh, look, he was trying to give her a scary glower. Sorry, Spikey, try again. Maybe when you aren't wearing a clown costume?

"Buffy, stop laughing at Spike," Willow reproved. "We only brought him 'cause he tried to stake himself."

"Hey, he can't do that! I was planning on taking all his money in divorce court!" Buffy protested, trying to act serious (not). "I had plans for that old car of his. Big, burning, junkyard plans!"

"Hey! The De Soto is a classic!" Spike protested, clown suit forgotten. "You're not touching my baby!"

Xander and Anya just stood there, confused.

"Um, what's this about divorce court?" Xander asked slowly. "'Cause I thought all that marriage stuff was far, far away."

"Spike and I are married," Buffy said cheerfully, "Willow didn't break the spell soon enough. Did you know that under California state law I'm entitled to half his stuff? Hey, Spikey, you got anything good?"

Spike tried his scary glower again. It still wasn't working.

"It is one of the better laws written," Anya agreed. "Men should pay large sums of money to their former wives. I've been called on to curse many a deadbeat ex-husband. In fact, one time I - "

"Whoa! Let's get back to the Spike'n'Buffy marriage deal," Xander interrupted. "Apocalypse aside, Buffy, when were you going to mention this?"

"When I was holding the divorce papers?"

Xander gave her his hurt puppy look.

Anya cocked her head and asked in a politely interested voice, "Have you consummated your relationship yet? That means," she helpfully added, "have you had sex?" Xander was always going on about how she should find things in common with his friends. If they could talk about sex, that would be a common ground, wouldn't it?

Buffy blushed and found her shoes very interesting all of a sudden.

Spike wished he could blush and started staring at the stars.

Willow wondered why Buffy was still speaking to her.

Xander wanted to go to purge bad bad images from his head.

"So you did have sex!" Anya exclaimed gleefully. "Did he give you many orgasms? In my experience, vampires can be very talented lovers."

Buffy seriously wished for the ability to gag Anya.

"So, let's, um, go find that Word of Valios. We have to go, uh, save the world and all that."

Spike nodded vigorously and marched after her. The more he dealt with Anya, the more his respect for the whelp grew. It was a very unpleasant sensation.


Turns out the Word of Valios wasn't at the museum. It was actually an old talisman stuck in the back of Giles' junk drawer. Oops. Unfortunately, they didn't figure that out until after Giles had been knocked unconscious. Again.

So while Anya was making sure he didn't die of whatever plagues the knocked unconscious, they were now going to do the stop the apocalypse at the last second method of world saving.

The Scoobies (and Spike) stood in front of the burned out husk of Sunnydale High, the current location of the Hellmouth. Buffy made a face. She'd hoped to never return here. Not exactly a realistic hope, per se, but still. It's the principle of the thing.

"Okay, when we get to the library keep a look out for victims they're keeping alive for the sacrifice. Getting them out is the first priority."

"And what do I do, Slayer?"

"Don't get in the way?"


"Sorry, Wills."

They entered the building. Sure enough, in the tattered remains of the library, were three Vahrall demons chanting their hearts out around a fissure in the floor.

"I don't see any sacrifice people," Willow whispered, taking in the scene.

Buffy did her own scan. The room was remarkably bare of hiding places - and of any tied up victims.

"Giles said the spell required a sacrifice. They have to be somewhere. Keep looking."

Without a better course of action clear, Buffy did what she did best. She jumped in and tackled one of the demons. The battle was joined.

Displaying the sort of initiative that stops the apocalypse, Willow took advantage of the distraction and grabbed one demon's bag of bones. Making a face, she threw it to Xander. Xander, already holding a filched bottle of blood, tossed it to Spike.

While Buffy continued whaling on her demon, two things happened. Xander's managed to grab the blood and decided to take a headlong leap into the hole. Spike got tired of being beat up by his opponent and fought back. When he realized there was no pain, he started attacking the Vahrall with an even greater intensity than Buffy. With a roar, Spike sent it flying into the fissure.

"Don't! They ARE the sacrifice!" Willow shouted just as he let go.

Oops. The ground started shaking. Beams, already precarious, began to fall down.

"Get out of here! The building is collapsing!" Buffy shouted, as she continued battling her demon. The bastard just REFUSED to die. She grunted as it got in a few good hits.

Spike staggered to his feet, already moving to help her. Before he could reach her side, however, someone else appeared on the scene.

As the Vahrall prepared to strike Buffy again, he found himself being attacked from behind. Riley stabbed the demon, simultaneously punching its head. With the demon suitably distracted, Buffy was able to administer the necessary snap to break its neck.

It fell to the ground with a thump. Buffy looked up and smiled at her rescuer, all decked out in his commando gear.



Gag! Riley, the git, was one of those soldier boys? She really could pick them, couldn't she? That was one of the wankers who captured him. The reasons for ripping that boy's throat out just grew. Spike could barely restrain the desire to mark his claim. So the boy played at being a warrior. He hoped Buffy could see through that and realize what a loser he was.

Like now. Riley was trying to explain why he was here. Spike wanted to laugh at the stupidity of his excuses. Paintball? Believable only if they were as stupid as he was. Which Spike most definitely was not. He KNEW that Riley was one of those commando guys.

What was the Slayer doing with one, anyway? Those idiots would probably want to cut her up and do experiments on her. Bet they have all sorts of issues with the supernatural. Or 'paranormal phenomenon' in wanker-talk, most likely.

"Don't I know you?"

And the git dares speak to him. 'Yeah, mate, I'm her husband, so bugger off before I kill you!'

Buffy was giving him pleading looks. With puppy eyes and pouting lips. Spike behaved. He always was a sucker for pretty girls (unless they were dinner, of course).

"No, I'm just a friend of Xander's."

Over Riley's shoulder, Buffy gave him a big smile. Spike tried very hard to ignore the warm feeling that spread through him. He resisted the urge to smile back. Since the git was holding her hand, it was quite easy.

Note to self. Convince Slayer to dump soldier boy in a lake, ASAP.