Yippee. Party at Lowell. Bring out the beer.
Buffy sat on the corner of a couch, occasionally sipping from her too warm Diet Coke. No beer for this co-ed. That led to Neanderthal badness. Next to her, Riley was babbling about something. Undoubtedly important. To him.
"Riley, I'm going to get a refill. Mine got all watery and warm."
"Need help finding the cooler?"
"No. I'll just follow the drinks."
Riley continued speaking as if she hadn't just answered his question. "It's actually tucked out of the way. The non-beer drinks, that is. C'mon, I'll show you."
He took her by the arm and started pulling her to this 'hidden' cooler. Buffy rolled her eyes and let him. If he wanted to be the big manly man showing her where she got her drink ten minutes ago, go him. One more nail in the coffin of their non-relationship.
Cause after that kiss two nights ago, this wasn't going anywhere.
Buffy's lips quirked up, remembering the lip mashing slobberfest that Riley was so proud of. And compared it to Spike's bone melting kisses and caresses. Mmm, lips of Spike.
Whoa. What was that? Buffy felt her breathing accelerate and her body became all flushed. That was weird. Suddenly, she was feeling excited. Very excited.
Buffy distractedly set her drink down. Okay, where did the hot flash come from?
Riley was having a similar reaction. He'd just been walking along, and now he was definitely feeling the burn.
Buffy leaned against the wall, trying to process. The wall didn't help. Instead, her mind grew even more foggy. Her brain seemed stuck on one scene - the infamous motel room. Buffy reached up to loosen her shirt a little in an effort to breathe. She slid her hands down her side, remembering past caresses. Memories of cool, cool hands soothing and loving came to her. Man, she needed them right now.
Someone else's hands replaced hers. They were too big, too warm. But the cold ones weren't here. These would do in a pinch.
"Let's go upstairs," Riley's voice whispered in her ear. It was the wrong voice, but in Buffy's dazed state, any one would do. She followed.
Spike scowled. He was broke. Again. Only one way to fix that - pick some pathetic passer-by and scare them into giving him money.
Hey there, up ahead. Nice enough girl walking. Easy pickings.
Spike hurled himself out of the alley into the girl's path. Unfortunately, by the time he got there he realized it was Anya.
Anya's only reaction was to scream a little and jump backwards. Otherwise, she just looked annoyed.
"Oh, it's you," he grumbled.
"Spike! What are you doing? You made me yell really high," Anya scolded.
Spike tried to see if he could squeeze any money out of her. "Hey! Yeah, I did. I scared you. Gimme money."
"I'm not paying you for scaring me," Anya announced.
"You're not paying me. I'm robbing you," he explained, doubting that this new approach would work. His dignity would be totally shot with her from now on.
"Oh, well now that's just ludicrous. You can't hurt me because you've got that chip in your brain. Also, I like my money the way it is... when it's mine," she stated.
Damn. She had to bring that up. "But I did scare you, right?" Spike asked, feeling like that guy in Dru's favorite movie. The one with the wizard and the dog. His existence was officially pathetic, now. He was bonding with characters from children's movies.
"I experienced heightened adrenaline levels when you growled," Anya reassured him. "Does that make you feel better?"
Unfortunately, it did. Spike resisted the urge to pout.
"I am on my way to Lowell House," Anya continued talking. "I plan to flirt with many handsome college boys and therefore make Xander jealous. Hopefully, he will understand we cannot just go without having sex two nights in a row and we will no longer be breaking up."
Sometimes, Spike wondered exactly how Anya's mind worked. But he didn't wonder very hard. That was the path to true insanity.
"Do you want to come with me?" she asked, finally finishing her speech. "Buffy will be there."
Spike snorted. "Why should I care if the Slayer's there?"
"Because she's your wife."
"And because you are attracted to her. Maybe even in love," Anya cocked her head to the side, studying him intently. "Definitely in lust."
"I'm not in anything with the Slayer," Spike snapped. "Vampires don't get the hots for Slayers." He proceeded to storm off.
"Buffy's at the party with Riley. Xander says that they are quote unquote, together," Anya called to his back.
"Think they have free beer?"
"It's a frat party," Anya huffed, "of course there's free beer."
"Sounds like fun, then. Where to?"
"This way." Anya gestured vaguely in the direction she'd been headed in.
As they walked, Spike added, "This has nothing to do with Buffy."
"Of course. Do you want my aid in separating her from the overly large and somewhat annoying Riley so you can go have sex with her?"
"Are you sure?"
"Really? Because it seems to me that you want to go have orgasms with Buffy, and are unable to do so. I just want to help."
"Ex-demons have to stick together."
"I'm not an ex-demon! Still a vampire, here."
"Neutered, former, what's the difference."
Spike almost wished to be walking with Harmony instead. Almost. Even Anya was better than Harmony's incessant inane chatter. But it was a close contest.
Spike took a long pull from his beer. It was a particularly watery and cheap brand, but what could you expect from Americans? None of them had a clue what real beer was.
Not long after their arrival, Anya had found Xander, yelled at Xander, then gone off to prove her womanhood. Or something. Spike had gotten a good laugh watching the whelp try to prove his manliness as well. The boy's flirting techniques were atrocious.
Since that had quickly grown boring, Spike had ever so casually started looking for Buffy. Not that he was interested or anything. Just wanted to make sure he knew where she was. It was best for a vamp to know where his enemies were, right? Absolutely nothing to do with a desire to talk to her, romance her, sneak her upstairs…
Huh. What was that? Spike frowned. He had a normal vampire's libido (meaning, if he wasn't thinking about killing, he was thinking about sex), but where did that little rush come from?
Then he noticed the seriously lust crazy behavior of everyone else in the room. People were kissing, moaning, and in general acting like rabbits in heat. Just look at that group playing Spin the Bottle. Acting all charged up just from touching the thing.
The bottle exploded. And with it, any semblance of order in the room.
Spiny thorns were sprouting up all over the place. Building was shaking like no tomorrow. People were running about, screaming in panic.
Well, this party's starting to liven up after all, Spike thought.
But that thought was quickly disbanded when he became the next target. Vines reached out and tried to entangle him. He cursed as the thorns bit down, yanked them off and sprinted to the door.
Outside, the bulk of the party goers ran for safety. The only ones left in front of the house, were, of course, the Scoobies. Do-gooders like that couldn't leave the scene of the crime. Oh no, they had to stay and fix it.
Spike took a quick head count. Whelp, Demon Girl, Red, and Red's girlfriend (c'mon, everyone knew, even if they didn't say it). No Slayer.
No Slayer! Was she trapped inside still?
"We have to go back in there," Willow announced. Her voice was a little uncertain as she faced the impenetrable, vine-covered door.
Ever the pragmatic, Anya asked, "Why?"
"Because Buffy and Riley are still trapped in there!" Xander retorted.
She was trapped? With the git? Spike started assessing the door for weak points.
"So?" Anya demanded. "She's the Slayer, he's a big soldier boy, what do they need you for?"
"Anya, look around! There's ghosts and shaking, and people are going all Felicity with their hair... We're fresh out of superpeople, and somebody's gotta go back in there." Xander took a deep breath. "Now who's with me?"
"I am," Spike announced.
"My wife is in there!" Spike pointed out.
Anya smirked. She loved it when she was right.
"I thought you hated Buffy," Xander remarked.
Spike ignored him and tried the door. He managed a few steps before being kicked out by an invisible force. Ow. "
Definitely Watcher Time."
The Scoobies went to get more experienced supernatural aid.
"You coming, Spike?" Willow asked as they left.
Spike didn't answer. He just continued studying the house's defenses.
"He's trying to protect his mate," Anya whispered loudly. "When vampires get like that, they don't do reason very well."
After multiple tries and many bruises, and possibly a cracked rib, Spike was navigating the stairs of Lowell House. For every step he took, whatever was haunting this place would send him back two.
But he persevered. Buffy was somewhere upstairs, his senses told him. And if the first floor was any indication, she was in big trouble.
Spike tightened his grip on the banister. A vine shot out and pierced the palm of his hand, going directly through. He ripped the offending plant away. More vines reached out to entangle his feet. He ripped those away, too. His hands were shredded and bleeding copiously.
Slayer, you had better appreciate this, Spike grumbled as he fought against a sudden hurricane grade wind that tried to force him back down the stairs. Finally, vampire strength overcame it and he reached the top of the steps.
There were sounds coming from the end of the hallway. Spike forged ahead, picking his way through vines and rubble and flying debris. Whatever was doing this didn't know vampires, thankfully. Or that splinter would have hit his heart and not his side.
Finally Spike reached the door. And cursed himself for not bringing a machete. He started to tear at it with his bare hands. Behind it, he could hear Buffy. And someone else. Riley?! Were they - ?
The knob was free now. He pulled with all his strength. The door ripped from its hinges and collapsed beside him.
"WHAT THE BLOODY HELL!"
Buffy. The git. In bed. TOGETHER.
Buffy looked up blearily. "Can't you knock?" she asked. Then reality hit. She was naked. In a bed. With Riley. While Spike stood less than ten feet away. Shit. This had better be a nightmare.
"What are you doing here?" Riley snapped, pulling on his pants.
"Looking for my wife!" Spike snarled. He marched over and started to pull Buffy away. Buffy obeyed mutely, still in shock. What had just happened? She silently accepted Spike's duster, wrapping it around herself. Her own clothes were nowhere to be found.
"Buffy, what the hell is going on?" he demanded.
Buffy shook her head, trying to clear her mind. "I, uh, something happened."
"Really? Ya think so?" Spike could barely keep his temper under control. "Thought you were trapped by some nasty ghosty when you were getting it on with this idiot!"
"Listen, Spike - "
"I ripped my way through hell knows what to find you. The whole damn house attacked me! All for this?" Spike growled, waving his hand to indicate the scene.
"It's not like we have anything!" Buffy defended herself.
"A marriage isn't enough?"
"It isn't real!"
"What about the kiss, luv? What was that to you? Do you go around kissing every guy like that?"
"YOU kissed ME."
"And you kissed back. Made ME think YOU actually realized that WE had something."
Riley glanced from Buffy to Spike and back again. "Listen, mister, I don't care who you are, but Buffy's MY girlfriend. So why don't you take a hike. You're obviously not wanted."
Spike sneered briefly before continuing his conversation with Buffy.
"I fought through hell knows what to find you! Dammit, Slayer," Spike's voice rose to a crescendo, "I was even worried about you!"
"You were worried?" Buffy asked, wonderingly. This was a strange turn of events. Spike seriously cared about her? She noticed how battered and beat up he looked. Whatever he had faced, it had been nasty. Very nasty. All this while she'd been -
"Whoa, wait a second, Slayer?" Riley blinked for a moment, then jumped up, shouting, "You're Hostile 17! Buffy, how the hell do you know the prisoner?"
"Listen mate, I'm nobody's prisoner."
"Well, Riley, that's a bit of a long story."
"Make it short," Riley snapped. It wasn't every day you finally scored with your girlfriend, had a guy barge in claiming he was her husband, only to find out said guy was a Priority One escaped hostile.
"His name is Spike. Remember, the one I said I was engaged to? And um, we're married."
"She said, we're married. As in lawfully wedded husband and wife. The bonds of matrimony. 'Till death do us part."
"Buffy, how could you? You not only let that - thing - live, but you're married to it? What kind of Slayer are you?"
"A damn good one."
"Spike, this is my problem. Riley, it's a lot more complicated than that. Spike even helps us sometimes."
"Oh, I'm sure he 'helps' you. I can't believe I just had sex with you! You actually let that disgusting dead thing touch you?" Riley couldn't believe that this woman not only allowed vampires to live, but she would know them? Have a relationship with them?
Buffy stared at her former (yes, definitely former, they were so over now) boyfriend. Before she could open her mouth to yell at him, Spike reacted.
By punching Riley in the jaw. The larger man hit the floor with a moan.
"That's what you get for hitting humans."
"He, ow, was insulting you!"
Buffy rolled her eyes as she cautiously picked her way to the door. "He just found out a bunch of crap that he should've been told before. He can be excused for some freakoutedness."
"Then why aren't you going to go back and fuss over Soldier Boy?"
"Excusable doesn't mean I'm not still pissed at him." Buffy reached the main part of Lowell House. "What happened?"
"Some sort of haunt, I guess. Your Scoobies probably have the full story by now."
Buffy timidly walked down the splintered steps. "You went through this? For a moment there, Spike, you impressed me."
Spike moved behind her and picked her up, lifting her easily over the debris. "Don't worry, I'm sure it won't last long."
Buffy fidgeted for a second, feeling a little embarrassed in Spike's arms. But it was preferable to walking barefoot through broken glass and splinters. "Thanks."
"I'm still mad about you and the git."
Buffy paused. "I'm sorry, for what it's worth."
Spike didn't answer, but simply continued walking. Even though she was covered in the git's scent, even though he still felt betrayed, for the first time, he felt as though whatever they shared could be something more. She had apologized.
The question was, did he want to follow where this could lead?