Hero’s Reward 7/12

This entry is part 7 of 12 in the series Hero's Reward
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A/N: Some dialogue from “As you Were” by Douglas Petrie. Yes, I did change the location for the confrontation with the Suvolte from a dam to a waste treatment facility.

~*~
Chapter 7, As It Could Be
~*~

Buffy woke with a sense of mission. She had planned to tell Spike of her epiphany the night of her birthday party, but the argument between him and Willow had made that impossible. Then it seemed as if everything conspired in the following week to keep her from having any private moments with the vampire to offer him her wary heart, should he still want it.
Spike had been scarce at best and Buffy wondered what could be keeping him from her side. He hadn’t even shown up for help with patrol in several days.

Willow had been keeping to herself as well. Clearly she was affronted by the accusation that she had not properly done the ritual when Buffy had been wrenched from heaven. Everyone gave the angry witch a wide berth.

“Today,” Buffy promised herself. “I’ll hunt him down if I have to and tell him today.” She was pretty sure he still wanted her. Now all she had to do was convince him that it wasn’t just sexual release she wanted but all of him.

“Oomph!” She had been so intent on the words she needed to make Spike believe her that she hadn’t even seen the large, looming figure in her path to the gates of Restfield. “Sorry,” she muttered without looking up.

“You can run into me anytime, Buffy,” a familiar voice sounded with an amused tone. “In fact, you’re saving me from a walk to your house. I was headed there to ask you to give me a hand.”

Buffy stood in gape-mouthed amazement, taking in a person she never had expected to see again in this life. “Riley?” She craned her neck to look at his now battle-scarred face. “Were you always this tall? What…who… how… why?”

“All very good questions.” He laughed outright. “Why don’t we go somewhere and talk, and I’ll explain all.” Buffy let herself be led back in the direction from whence she had just come.

Riley answered his cell phone as they walked briskly and Buffy dull noted the ringtone was the theme from the James Bond movies. Actually, Riley looked like he had just stepped out of one of them with his flak jacket and high tech tools. He was more geared up then he had ever been in his old commando days. She only heard bits of his stilted and short conversation.

“Fine. Operation RTS in place then … Yes … I have made contact with the operative. … Roger that.” He replaced the cell on his belt and gave a pained smile to the girl at his side. “Sorry about that. Coordinating a search and capture like this one can be a pain. I always hate it when people take cell calls while talking to me, but this time it can’t be helped.”

“’S okay.” Buffy smiled back in reassurance. “So, on a mission here at the Hellmouth, eh?”

“Tracking a real big nasty. Major mindless killer. We traced it here and think it’s planning to spawn at the Hellmouth.”

“What is it?” Buffy hadn’t heard any rumors of big uglies new to town.

“Suvolte demon. Rare, lethal and nearly extinct. I know I’m putting you on the spot showing up out of the blue like this, but I need the best and this IS your backyard. I need you, Buffy. Can you help me?” He pulled out another device from his belt and flipped it open. There was a radar screen with two large blinking red dots showing. “It’s on the move. We chased this thing all the way up from South America, taking out its nests along the way. You put down one and a dozen take its place. They’re breeders. If it gets out of hand and there’s a war with humans, the humans are going to lose. You’ve seen the Alien movies? Kind of a scaled down version of one of those.”

“Sounds like it’s time for me to slip into my best Sigourney Weaver mode and take this bitch out.” Buffy found it easy to slip into quip mode with Riley now that she knew her own heart. Easy to forget and forgive how Finn had left her to face Glory alone because she couldn’t just get over his dangerous addiction to bities. Knowing she loved Spike took the sting of his abandonment right out.

Riley smiled in anticipation of seeing the Slayer in her natural element once again. She really was a sight to behold, especially when you didn’t have to feel guilty if she got hurt.
“There’s this dealer in town. Sort of a demonic broker of weapons of mass destruction. Calls himself ‘The Doctor’. Think my people may have a lead on him. This guy is buying and selling dangerous demons to unfriendlies. Nasty business.”

“Hmm,” Buffy mused for the first time, “Imagine a government interested in using demons for evil purposes! Who’d a-thunk it?” She saw Riley flinch slightly at the pointed reminder of the underlying purpose of the Initiative.

“Maggie was rogue, Buffy; the government didn’t authorize what she was doing with Adam.”
“Uh huh.” Buffy raised a brow in skepticism. “Well, we’ll nip this one in the bud before it tunnels under all of Sunnydale.”

Riley steered her towards a large black SUV with darkened windows and held the door for her like the Iowa gentleman he was raised to be.

“Looks like command central in here with all the screens and keyboards,” Buffy noted.

“We managed to hit this hostile with a tracker. See that red dot moving near the water treatment plant?” Buffy noted the speed of the dot as it raced on the screen. “We think it’s planning to spawn there. Plenty of organic material to feed young there; not too populated either.”

“Charming. Just where I’d want to set up my nursery.”

“These things aren’t great thinkers. They act on instinct and that food source is a real lure.”

“What, there aren’t sewage treatment places somewhere between here and Paraguay?” Buffy was sick of every demon in existence making Sunnydale the Mecca for all things demony.
Riley gave her a sideways glance and grinned. “We think it’s the Hellmouth more than the climate.”

~~~

Spike sighed wearily and put a bit of burba weed in his mug of warm Wilbur. It was becoming harder and harder to be around Buffy and keep his hands to himself. She had definitely set out lures aplenty at her birthday party.

‘M tryin’ to be good here,’ he silently railed at the Powers That Loved To Torment. He’d spent the better part of the week making sure he had no one-on-one time with Buffy. Still, the urge to say ‘sod it all’ and sweep her into his arms was overwhelming at times.

Thinking about his girl, Spike felt the anger rise. “Bloody witch should’ve known she was riskin’ a mess. Not just what went wrong, but what went right! Gonna call back the Chosen One, you need a big sacrifice, not Bambi. And you have to make sure everythin’s perfect doin’ it. Just lucky Buffy came back with all her parts.” He found his mind drifting to a remembered inventory of those parts and sighed again, this time wistfully. ‘Thought souls were supposed to make all this doin’ the right thing easier!’

“Knock knock,” a voice complimented the rapping sound on his crypt door and Spike remembered inviting Clem over for West Wing. “Don’t want to miss the start. That Rob Lowe is almost as good an actor as David Hasselhoff, but I don’t think he can sing like the Hoff! Now THERE’S a performer!”

“Make yourself at home, Floppy. Got us some wings to go with the Wing,” Spike passed the bucket of still hot chicken wings to his only friend. Remembering what a good friend the dermatologically challenged demon had been right to the last during the previous run of this year from hell made Spike fonder of him than he had been the first time around. Hell, he looked at all of them more fondly with the gift of hindsight… ‘well, all but the bloody Watcher.’

Between the conversation and the loud volume Clem insisted he needed to not miss a word of the dialogue, neither demon heard the faint noises coming from underground. The slight scuttling that was too quiet for any but a demon to hear.

“So how’s your Slayer lately? I think she’s kinda sweet on a certain vampire, if you know what I mean,” Clem teased.

‘Yeah, likely the grandsire at this point. She was to the end, after all.’ Spike’s insecurities where Angel were concerned had been the main reason he hadn’t sought out Buffy after his miraculous recorporealization. Angel had managed to find that one spot of doubt and play it to his full benefit.

Watching Buffy dance in abandon with the bloody Immortal had only clenched Spike’s belief that her last words to him had been an act of charity rather than a true declaration. If there were a vampire that she was going to love forever and eventually be with, it would be the Flintstones reject. She had never managed to get over her damned Romeo and Juliet dream.

Angel had taken great delight in letting Spike know that Buffy had as much as promised herself to him. Told him some nonsense about an oven or something along that line. That wasn’t quite what the sod had quoted, but it was lame enough to sound like something Buffy would say. Spike added that tidbit to the tonsil hockey he’d watched that night in SunnyD and resigned himself long before that last death to the old man’s getting the girl in the end.

“Where’d you go there for a minute, bucko?” Clem had seen the vampire’s always expressive face go someplace dark and painful as he clearly checked out mentally. “I’d think you’d be happy your lady is starting to notice the compact but sexy catch in front of her.”

“Buffy sees the package and wouldn’t turn down some cold comfort, but I’m afraid her heart wouldn’t be part of the bargain. I’m a greedy bloke, want it all or not any of it.”

“I think you’re reading her wrong, pal. Looked like it was more than ‘Sexual Healing’ she was singing. More like ‘Love Me Tender.’ I think the girl’s got it bad for the Big Bad.”

“I wish,” Spike said forlornly.

~~~

Buffy and Riley rapidly caught up to the demon being tracked by the red blip on the screen. She was out of the vehicle before it came to a complete stop and ran to the edge of a tank filled with sludge. “Look!” She pointed to a lumbering demon across the tank and began to run around the smelly pool of goo towards her target with Riley hot on her heels.

The demon was seemingly oblivious to its company and came to a stop on the other side of a large drainage pipe that was pouring its contents into the festering pool beneath. Buffy was gasping for breath as she halted a few feet from the creature that looked like something out of a SciFi film.

Wrenching a taser from his utility belt, Riley circled around the back of the Suvolte. The demon finally showed awareness of the humans and lunged at Riley first, as if sensing the girl was unarmed and a lesser threat.

Buffy, affronted, complained to the demon as she attacked in full force. “What, see a small girl and think I’m not a threat? Slayer here. You really are too dumb to be allowed to breed!” Lack of brains notwithstanding, the Suvolte proved to be as tough as a tank and easily tossed the Slayer aside as it continued to launch an attack on Riley, hitting him in the stomach forcefully.

“Riley!” Buffy used her comrade’s prone form for leverage to do a two-legged kick that sent the demon to the ground this time. “You okay?”

Riley wasn’t sure what hurt more: the pain from the demon attack or the portion of his chest that Buffy had used as a springboard for her gymnastics. “I’ll live.”

As the pair took a moment to catch their breath, leaning on one another, a third human clad in black raced to join them. Seeing only a blur of black, Buffy thought, “Spike,” relieved to finally have some help that she wouldn’t have to worry about.

Their back-up, however, turned out to be a rather pretty woman with long hair pulled back in a severe ponytail. “Hey, can anyone join this party?” She smiled with clear affection at Riley before turning to address Buffy. “What exactly are you doing with my husband?”
Riley had the grace to look embarrassed.

“Something you forgot to mention?” Buffy wondered when her ex had planned that little reveal. She turned to the woman with a quirked brow, motioning between her and Riley while asking, “Husband? Wife?” The evident Mrs. Finn nodded. “And those aren’t code names like Big Dog or Falcon?” At the woman’s bemused look, she concluded, “I didn’t think so.”

Riley put on an air of nonchalance and did the introductions, “Buffy, meet Sam… Sam, Buffy.”
Sam gave the Slayer a broad grin and offered her hand in greeting. “Pleasure.”

“Demon,” Buffy replied, not looking at Sam at all but behind her at the now rising Suvolte.

Sam threw herself into the fray before either of the demon hunters could make a move. She was holding her own with well-placed punches and kicks, so Buffy took the opportunity to ask, “How long have you been married?”

“Four months,” Riley replied sheepishly.

‘Huh, not too hard to replace, was I?’ Buffy felt peevish. “Mazel Tov. Any children?”

It wasn’t hard to tell Buffy was miffed, and Riley hustled to make peace. “Buffy, I meant to tell you when the time was right… you know, after we had the hostile neutralized. Sam caught up to us a hell of a lot faster than I would’ve guessed.” He smiled fondly at his wife while making sure she was still more than holding her own.

“So she’s a soldier too? You’re an army of… what… two?”

“Not a soldier, a demon hunter. It’s what brought us together.” He noticed that Sam had finally been felled by the large demon and moved toward them, taser at the ready.

Buffy shoved him to one side and grabbed the demon by its head. “Call this your wedding gift,” she offered as she twisted and snapped the demon’s neck, killing it.

Sam looked more shocked than grateful as Buffy gasped out, “Guess that’s mission accomplished then.”

Riley knelt and checked the Suvolte’s vital signs and sighed wearily. “She killed it.”

Sam put a sympathetic hand on her husband’s drooped shoulder and offered a whispered, “It’s okay.”

Buffy caught on that something was amiss and ventured a guess: “You didn’t want it dead then?”
Sam rolled her eyes at Riley and tried to placate the Slayer. “Let me guess. Mr. Operation here forgot to mention that little bit?” Riley looked even more embarrassed than before. “It is nice to finally meet the legend though.” She reached out a hand for the knife that Riley had removed from his belt and knelt beside the Suvolte, neatly slicing it open to reveal a thick yellow substance that trickled slowly and pooled on the ground.

“I should have explained,” Riley admitted.

“That might have saved me some trouble, yeah,” Buffy agreed.

“Maybe we could talk about this at your house?” Riley suggested. “I’ll fill you in on everything.”

~~~

Lights were already ablaze on Revello. Between Dawn cunningly inviting Tara over in hopes that her sweet disposition might defuse the walking bomb that was Willow and the Xander and Anya pre-wedding show, the house was lively. Giles was holed up in the dining room writing notes about Willow’s botched ritual so he would not forget any details for his upcoming his meeting with the Shaman.

When Buffy and the Finns walked through the door, Dawn was already on the defensive, having seen them come up the walk.

“Hi, Dawn! Wow, you’ve sure grown in the last year.”

“No thanks to you! Some people just left when the kitchen got too hot,” Dawn grumbled with a narrowed glance.

“Uh…,” Riley was surprised at the hostility in the teen. “Guess lots happened after I left. Sorry?”

“You knew there was an uberbitch after Buffy and that Mom was still recuperating. You sure picked one hell of a time to get huffy and leave,” Dawn accused.

“DAWN!” Buffy was appalled at her little sister’s lack of tact.

“Well, it’s true. If Riley had sucked it up and stayed, maybe you wouldn’t have died.” Dawn folded her arms across her chest and glared daggers at the soldier. “Guess he didn’t love you as much as Spike does.”

As if on cue, Xander wandered in from the kitchen, Anya in tow. “Hey, it’s the man! Back like the prodigal son?” He eyed Sam with interest. “Recruiting looks like they upped their standards.” He put out a hand and introduced himself. “Xander Harris, man of many trades, bon vivant, and provider of sustenance for the troops. This lovely maid is soon to be my blushing bride Anya.”

“You’ve been hanging around Giles too much,” Buffy commented with a slight giggle.

Sam shook his hand firmly. “I’m Sam. Sam Finn, actually, and Riley’s blushing bride. Nice to meet you.”

“Wow, that was fast,” Dawn snarked. “Oh yeah, broken heart, my…”

“Dawn, enough!” Buffy ordered and her eyes flamed with anger. “I’ll talk to you later. Isn’t it time for you to work on that term paper, preferably in your room?”

Riley and Sam pretended to not hear the less than friendly mutterings of the snarky teen as she stalked her way up the stairs.

Xander had been watching Buffy for signs of a broken heart and was glad to note she seemed okay with this bit of news. “Congratulations! Well, this is just like old times, except with all the married and soon to be married additions. Nice to meet you too, Sam. You’ve got a great guy there–a real, long haul keeper.”

Anya had already corralled Sam and was peppering her with questions about all things weddingish. “So will you be staying for the wedding?”

“I doubt we’ll get to stay. We’re here for a capture-and-contain mission and then they’ll probably send us to some far off corner of the world right after.” Sam looked genuinely sorry to miss the event.

“We’ve been tracking a Suvolte demon through most of Central America and Mexico. Finally cornered it tonight with Buffy’s help, but I forgot to tell her we wanted it alive. My bad.” Riley grimaced and shrugged. “Now we just hope we can track this demon weapons dealer called ‘The Doctor’ and put him out of business. He’s got the Suvolte’s eggs and the bidding has probably already started.”

No one noticed Giles, who had heard the commotion and moved into the doorway of the dining room. “I doubt they would fetch much. Suvoltes are large and lumbering creatures, but if their nesting places aren’t threatened, largely harmless. They tend to keep as far from humans as possible unless forced to defend their young. The young are rather skittish but not dangerous. Rather like crabs on steroids, although I suppose if you were to get pinched with their claws, you might not view them as harmless.”

Riley looked utterly shocked, “Giles! I thought you were in London?”

“I was. Now I am not.”

“He’s going back after the wedding though, at least for a while,” Anya added. “Before he goes, Giles is going to give me away!”

Not to be distracted by Anya’s obvious glee, Giles was interested in more information about this supposed broker. “Why don’t you tell us about this Doctor then, and we can sort it all out. Truthfully, I’ve heard nothing about any such organization or person. The Council keeps close watch for any sign of trafficking in demons.”

Riley looked flummoxed and actually stammered a bit before replying. “Well, this guy is new to the scene. Probably an idiot looking to make some quick cash.” He looked pointedly at Xander, “We all know…people…like that, right, Xan?”

“Oh yeah. Hey, you don’t think it’s Spike, do you?” Xander took the bait as Riley had hoped.
“Sounds like his style. We’ll have to check it out,” Riley rushed to agree.

Buffy furrowed her brow and immediately rejected the idea. “I can’t see Spike calling himself ‘Doctor’ after what that demon called Doc did last year, and he’s not looking for money all the time anymore. In fact, since Dawn and I have free reign at his crypt, I can’t see him having anything like demon parts laying around for us to stumble over. Besides, didn’t you say this Doctor is some big shot international dealer? That is SO not Spike!”

Giles was thinking of the money Spike had available to him and doubted his involvement as well. “As much of an idiot as Spike can be, I must say I agree with Buffy. This is the Hellmouth, however, and there may be any number of demons seeking a path to riches by preying upon other demons.”

“Maybe we should pay Hostile 17 a visit, just to be sure. Want to come along, Buffy?” Riley put a hand under her elbow and urged her to the door.

Sam was looking at Giles oddly. “Are you sure about the Suvoltes? Ri said they were nearly unstoppable and really deadly.” She turned to her husband with a question in her eye. “That IS what they said in the briefing, right?”

“Um, yeah. Maybe they got their facts wrong though. Military intel isn’t perfect. Sometimes we’ve had false information about weapons that looked pretty convincing. Giles knows his stuff, so I’ll take his word for it.” He smiled ingratiatingly at the Watcher. “Spike–or whoever this Doctor is–might not know that though. Or it could be a scam and this broker knows he’s got duds on his hands. Either way, he’s bad news. Evil. Needs to be stopped before he gets his hands on something that really is deadly.”

~~~

“Okay, Doctor, where are the demon eggs?” Riley demanded as the trio crashed into Spike’s crypt. Buffy had the decency to look at Spike with a silent apology for the harsh entry and words.

“Well… Cardboard and…” he tilted his head in curiosity as he spied Sam. “Got yourself a groupie then.” Spike looked at Buffy to see if Finn’s surprise bride produced the same amount of hurt as it had last time. She didn’t seem nearly as concerned about her ex-boyfriend’s having moved on though.

Sam Finn held a crossbow pointed in Spike’s direction. Buffy noticed and carefully placed herself in the line of fire, as if by accident.

“I’m chipped, luv, or didn’t Tweedle-Dee tell you ‘bout the first chapter of our little story?”

Buffy turned to Sam and agreed, “It’s true. You don’t need to worry about Spike. He can’t hurt humans.” She winced slightly at the memory that he could hurt her, if he so chose.
Sam kept a tight grip on the crossbow but did stop pointing it at the vampire.

“Now what’s this about eggs? Don’t generally eat ‘em myself. Prefer a nice rare steak or some spicy wings,” Spike quipped. He hadn’t let G’Rogrik talk him into egg-sitting this time since he neither needed the money nor was deluded enough to think that he wasn’t being set up. Clearly Finn hadn’t gotten that memo.

“Hey, Spike, what’re these giant eggs doing in your bedroom?” Clem popped his head up from the trap door, narrowly missing Sam’s left foot. “You’re out of Cheese Whiz too, by the way.”

Spike looked at his wrinkled friend like he had lost his mind. “What the hell are you going on about? Don’t have any stinkin’ eggs, with or without Cheese Whiz.”

“Sure you do. I don’t recognize the kind, but they look about to hatch.”

Spike couldn’t believe what he was hearing. There couldn’t be demon eggs in his basement. He had known well enough to steer away from doing that little favor.

“Stand aside,” Riley ordered and muscled his way past Clem and into the basement.

Buffy looked at Spike in confusion and noted the look of real puzzlement on her vampire’s face. Something wasn’t right here… a whole lot of somethings.

“Spike, Riley says you’re this international demon broker and you’re selling these Stewbolt demon spawn. I told him there was no way.” Buffy looked at him with a plea in her eyes.

“Damn straight there’s no way! If Clem’s right and there are eggs–even chicken eggs–down there, I sure as hell didn’t put them there! Got more bloody sense than that. What if the Bit dropped in? Only demon I let come over’s Clem and that’s ‘cause he’d never hurt either one of you.”

“That’s pretty much what I said,” Buffy nodded in agreement. She believed Spike. Something was fishy about the whole deal. “I believe you, Spike.”

His eyes softened into awe at her avowal of trust. ‘Lots different than last time. She wouldn’t even listen to me then.’

Riley shouted up to Sam and Buffy, “They’re here! We need to blow the whole nest before they hatch!”

Sam detached a grenade from her service belt and moved toward the trap door.

“Whoa, sister,” Buffy laid a hand on Sam’s wrist before she could touch the detonator. “Let’s just check this out a bit before you go blowing up my friend’s home.”

Spike was struck dumb in amazement at the Slayer’s attitude. She might not love him, but she evidently trusted him and that was something he could build on.

“Hurry up, will you?!” Riley yelled up at the women overhead.

“No rush. Remember what Giles said… cranky lobsters even if they do hatch.” Buffy reminded Sam.

“This Giles, can his information be trusted?”

“With my life,” Buffy reassured the other girl.

“Wow, sorry, Spike. I didn’t know anyone else was here,” Clem whispered.

“No problem. See anything else while you were poking around the tunnels?”

“Just your stash of Weetabix and burba weed. And like I said, you’re out of Cheese Whiz.” Clem looked fairly crushed at that thought.

“Only keep that crap in for you, so if I’m out you’ve got no one but yourself to blame, mate,” Spike snarked. “I’d rather eat paste.”

Buffy and Sam had already joined Riley below when Spike headed down. “What the hell are these?” he demanded when he reached the bottom of the ladder. “I can guarantee they weren’t here when I rolled out of bed after my afternoon kip.”

“Yeah, like I’d believe that,” Riley said at the exact time Buffy was reassuring Spike with, “I believe you.”

Sam merely looked from her husband to the Slayer and vampire and back again, trying to puzzle it all out.

Buffy began to do her best Jessica Fletcher imitation and looked toward the tunnel entrance to Spike’s underground. Faint tracks that were visible in the dirt floor looked fresh. “Looks like this is how the eggs got in here. Did you hear anything, Spike, or did you go out earlier?”

“No, Clem and I were watchin’ the telly. Daft bugger can’t hear worth shit, even with those long ears, so the volume was loud enough to wake my dearly departed neighbors.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Buffy noticed Riley squirming and began to get a picture. It wasn’t pretty. “I’m not math girl, but I think I can put two and two together pretty good. Riley, what do you know about these eggs? And if you want to leave the Hellmouth in one piece, don’t give me the line of bull you did earlier. You know I can just have Willow do a truth spell on you. She’s mega powerful now that she’s brought me back from the dead.”

“You were dead?” Sam looked horrified. “And Willow is a witch?”

“Yes and yes, but no time for chit chat at the moment, Mrs. Finn.”

Riley sighed and gave it up. “I wanted to protect you, Buffy. I know Spike; he’s up to no good. Told me he was going to make a play for you, and when I found out you were back and vulnerable, I just knew he would get around to taking advantage. We really did have to track this thing and it seemed like a good way to beat him to the punch, prove he’s still the evil bastard he always was.”

‘So THAT’S what happened!’ Spike let out a derisive snort as he contemplated this new revelation. ‘Didn’t take the bait like last time and accept the buggers for some dosh, so he just had ‘em put in my crypt anyway! Gotta give it to him for creativity.’

“Who I chose to be with is MY business. It stopped being yours when you decided to get on that helicopter and fly out of my life,” Buffy fumed.

“But I still care… you know, as a friend,” Riley quickly amended after catching the glare of death he was getting from Sam. He glared at Spike, “I told you I’d not stand by and let you hurt Buffy.”

“Yeah, I remember you makin’ that… point.” Spike glared right back. “Still carryin’ that plastic stake?”

“WHAT?” Buffy shouted. She gaped at Spike in horror at the implications. “We WILL talk about this later, Spike. For now,” she returned her murderous looks to Riley, “I want you to explain to me just why you thought it would be a good idea to set it up for me to have to kill Spike. You KNOW the story of how killing Angel broke me and you were setting me up to go through that again! WHY? Because you don’t approve of my choice in boyfriends?”

Sam added her own question: “So what exactly was operation RTS?”

“Nothing important. Just dealing with a dangerous hostile.”

“Hostile 17 maybe?” Buffy guessed correctly. “I mean it, spill or I’ll get Willow involved.

“All right. Stands for ‘Remove the Scum.’ That’s what I was doing, Buffy, nothing wrong with that. Technically, Spike’s government property anyway… just because he escaped… He’s not even real, Buffy! He’s a vampire, a monster, a killing monster without our chip.”

“I know who and what Spike is, Riley. Chosen One comma The, remember?” She was utterly disgusted.

“Why does everyone think they have a right to tell me who I can and cannot love? Who made you my keeper? I don’t remember you asking me if Sam was an okay choice for you. Xander never cleared Anya with me and Willow never got around to that, ‘hey, is it okay with you if I decide to be gay?’ speech. NO! Everyone else gets to love who they want to, but when I do, you all think you know what’s best for Buffy. Well, you don’t!”

Spike had been in a fugue since Buffy had called him her boyfriend and was rattled back to awareness when the ‘L’ word popped up. “Pet, just what are you saying? Please spell it out.”

“I’m saying what I wanted to say to you on my birthday, you dope. But no, you had to go get into a fight with Willow and ruin my chance. Then you avoid me like the plague ever since! I love you, you idiotic vampire. And I don’t just want to jump your bones; I want a relationship!”

For once, Spike’s crypt was as silent as the grave it had once been.

 

Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/262016.html

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