Moving right along with the next free-for-all-day, here are the last two chapters of The Unwilling Hero
“So, what’s the plan for this evening, Slayer?”
“I dunno. I’ve got to patrol, but we really didn’t practice finding you last night, so maybe….”
“Know a good place for it,” Spike said. “We’ll have to clean out the inhabitants first, but then we’ll have the whole place to ourselves.”
“Vamp nest. In one of the old mansions on Crawford.”
“Crawford Street? Not—”
He interrupted before she could finish. “Not that one. Wouldn’t do that to you, Slayer. It’s one block over. Bit less substantial – less stonework, more rotting wood, but it’s big and has lots of hiding places.”
“Oh. Okay.” They walked toward Crawford Street with their usual casual seeming but ground covering strides. “What did you mean, you wouldn’t do that to me? It’s just a house, Spike.”
He snorted. “Right. And my grandsire’s just another vamp. Saw your face when you found out in the middle of dinner that he’d been here. You’re not over it yet. No sense putting you some place full of memories of sending him to the hell he deserves.”
“Those wouldn’t be the only memories,” she said softly. When he gave a non-committal “no?”, she continued. “That’s where Angel lived when he came back from…from where I sent him. He lived there almost all last year.”
“So good memories too?” She wasn’t sure, but she thought she heard a low growl.
“Not really. I mean, some, yeah. You know, Angel back and still with a soul, so that was all good…” Buffy went silent again as she remembered learning what he’d done with Faith in order to get the information about the Mayor from her, as well as his ultimate decision to leave Sunnydale and her. “But there was some not so good stuff, so yeah, all things considered, not one of my favorite places.”
“Well, not one of mine either, and not where we’re going, so no worries.”
“Why would you care?”
“About what?” Spike began to walk faster, his hunched shoulders indicating how little interest he had in pursuing that line of questioning.
“Fine,” she sighed. “Slow down. I’m not going to—gah!” She ducked as Spike came flying through the air followed by the Fyral demon that had thrown him. Cursing her lack of sword, Buffy was reduced to trying to knock the demon off balance so she could put a stake into his eye. A wild swing that connected with her chin sent her staggering back to land on her ass beside Spike. He looked over at her, vamp face to the fore.
“I’ll take high if you take low.”
Without further discussion they kipped to their feet and dove at the advancing demon. Buffy hit his knees, dodging the toxic snot and causing him to stagger. The weight of a snarling vampire smashing into his upper torso was enough to cause him to lose his balance and fall backward. Spike grabbed his horns and began twisting as he rode the demon’s head to the ground. He kept wrenching until, with a sickening sound, the head came off in his hands. He threw it away and watched in amusement as Buffy tried to avoid the ichor spouting from the headless torso still thrashing around.
“Ewww, Spike! You should have warned me!”
“What the bloody hell did you think I was going to do? It’s not like either one of us is carrying a silver sword, is it?” He held out a hand to help her up. “I’d say it was a job well done.”
Ignoring his obvious request for praise, she spun in circles, trying to see if she had any demon blood on her back. “Do I have any icky stuff on me?”
“Oh for— hold still, Slayer.” He grabbed her shoulders to stop her, then walked in a circle around her, still in game face. “You’re fine. Not a speck of…. stuff… on you.”
“I will dust myself before I use a word like that,” he growled. “Com’n let’s go before they get out huntin’ and leave the place empty.”
As they neared the old Victorian that Spike indicated was their goal, Buffy slowed down and tugged on his arm.
“Why don’t I practice on them? I can try to sneak in and find them before they know I’m there.”
Spike shook his head. “You know that quiet, no breathing thing that fooled you last night?” He didn’t wait for her answer. “You don’t have that. You breathe and your heart beats – fast when you’re hunting, I might add. And you smell like food. They don’t have to see you to know there’s a human in the house.”
“Well that sucks!”
“So do vampires. So unless you’re planning to donate some of that tasty elixir in your veins…”
“Fine. We’ll do it your way. Kill them all and then we can practice. Let’s go.” Buffy pulled out a stake and checked to make sure she had her extras. “Do you want one of these?” She held one out to Spike, who shook his head.
“Nope. Fists and fangs. Got my weapons.”
A half-hour later, the house contained nothing but dust and Buffy and Spiked high-fived each other in the now-empty living room.
“Well done, Slayer. Not sure they knew what hit ‘em.”
“The ones you fought did. I heard one of them call you Spike. Were these… friends… of yours?”
“Not friends. Ex-minions, a couple of them. Minions that couldn’t be arsed to help me out when I was starving.”
“You used me to get revenge?” Buffy’s triumphant smile faded and her eyes narrowed. “You were using me?”
“Don’t be getting’ your unmentionables in a twist there, luv,” he said, edging away from her. “You cleaned out a nest that you wouldn’t have known about except for me. And you probably wouldn’t have been able to do it by yourself, so you needed my help. It’s a win for both of us.” He continued to move away from her glare. “And now we have all this room to play in. In fact, I’m just going to go hide now.” He turned and left the room in a swirl of leather, leaving Buffy frowning at the space he’d just disappeared from. “Give me a count of fifty, then come looking.” His voice drifted back to her.
“Stupid vampire,” she muttered. Instead of counting, she tried to expand her senses to see if she could tell where he went. The particular tingle that said “Spike” to her was growing fainter, but her neck still felt as if she was very close to a vampire. Too close. Sliding her stake back into her hand, she tried to figure out where the strange signature was coming from by using her eyes and ears too. A flicker of movement at the corner of her vision had her bringing the stake up even as the stalking vampire leapt for her. His eyes widened at the last second as he realized his attack was going to land him chest first on the stake Buffy was holding. She watched his dust drift to the floor and scuffed her foot through it.
Losing interest in his remains and deciding she’d given Spike long enough, she set out to find him. She remembered she’d actually been able to track his signature to the kitchen in Giles’s apartment, and she walked briskly in the direction it seemed strongest. She hesitated at the base of a staircase, confused briefly about whether it was stronger from above, or from ahead of her. She went up a few steps, felt it grow stronger, and smiled. “Ready or not, here I come,” she whispered as she ran up the stairs. She halted at the top, scolding herself for not bringing a light with her. The upper floors were dark, unlike the lower ones that had candles and even some lamps burning.
“Crap!” she muttered. “Now what?” She remembered what Spike had said about her heartbeat and scent and decided there was no point in trying to be stealthy. She strode down the hallway using what night vision she had to avoid tripping over the occasional shadowy piece of furniture. She had just zeroed in on the room in which she was sure Spike was hiding, when she felt the signal growing weaker again.
“You’re cheating!” she yelled. “You’re supposed to stand still until I find you.”
“Did,” he replied, his voice fading as he moved farther away. “You found me, so I’m changing hiding places.”
“I don’t think I like this game.” Grumbling to herself, she began moving again, trying to follow his progress and marveling at how silently he could move in his clunky boots. She found, if she stayed close enough, she could tell when he was moving away by the strength of the tingles. But when he changed direction, she still had to stop and experiment with going one way and then another until she figured out which way he’d gone… by which time he was so far away she had to run to get close again.
After following Spike all the way up to the attic and then down to the cellar without actually seeing or touching him, Buffy was beginning to tire of the almost-but-not-quite-a game. When Spike’s signature became faint again and she’d followed the trail to the stairs leading up to the main part of the house, she completely lost her enthusiasm. She stopped part way up the stairs and plopped down on the one with the fewest splinters, vowing to wait until he came looking for her. When the tingles disappeared completely, she frowned in surprise.
“Spike?” she called. “I don’t want to play any more. Where are you?”
When he didn’t answer and she couldn’t sense him anywhere, she got up and stomped up the stairs, mentally rehearsing the names she was going to call him for running off and leaving her. It wasn’t until she was almost to the front of the house that she noticed the lights outside and heard voices shouting orders. Moving quietly, she ran to a window and peered out to see a small group of men in black outfits closing up the back of an equally dark van.
“Good night’s work, boys,” said an oddly familiar voice. “Maggie will be happy to have her vamp back, and to know the chip is still working.”
Shit! They’ve recaptured Spike! Buffy darted out a side door, keeping to the shadows and working her way toward the van. She could feel Spike again once she got close to the vehicle. The commandoes were standing by the front door, discussing whether they should take a run through the house to see if they could find any other vampires; they seemed confident Spike would not leave the van. As Buffy remembered what Spike had said about his time in their labs, she mentally promised him she wouldn’t let them take him back. She hid behind the van and waited while the men went back into the old house, their flashlights showing clearly where they were.
Running to the back doors, Buffy tugged on the handles, growling to herself when they appeared locked. “Spike,” she whispered. “Can you hear me? Try to open the door.” There was no answer, and the doors remained stubbornly closed. With a sigh, she grabbed the handles and wrenched them as hard as she could, smiling in satisfaction when she heard a snapping sound and the doors opened. Her smile changed to a frown when she saw Spike crumpled on the floor.
“He’s not dust,” she muttered, “so all I have to do is get him out of there.” She reached in and grabbed whatever body part she could, which turned out to be his leg, and began pulling. When she heard voices and saw the lights returning, she yanked hard and fell to the ground with Spike’s inert body on top of her.
“Not tonight, pet, I’ve got a headache….” he mumbled, as she squirmed out from under him.
“Very funny. Can you walk?”
“Dunno. Get out of here, Slayer, before they come back and find you—”
Buffy jumped to her feet and began dragging him into the over-grown bushes shadowing the front of the house. Ignoring his weak cursing and scratches from the twigs and thorns, she hauled him by one arm, not stopping until they were both lying concealed beneath heavy foliage.
“Put my coat over us,” he whispered, his voice raspy with effort. “It’ll block our heat signatures a bit and hide our hair.” He wriggled one arm free of the sleeve, and Buffy pulled the coat over their heads. She huddled into his side, breathing as silently as she could, while the commandoes milled around their van cursing at Spike’s escape.
“No way should that vamp have been able to recover enough to rip off a door handle,” one insisted. “I hit him twice with the taser and the chip fired too. He was down for the count.”
“Right. So? You think the I-rescue-vampires fairy showed up and carried him away?”
“Didn’t Maggie say he was stronger than most of the vamps we get? If another vampire or demon didn’t help him, then he had must have done it himself. Even if he did regain consciousness and break out, we weren’t gone that long. He couldn’t have gotten very far. Spread out and search the neighborhood. He’s probably holed up in one of the other empty buildings.”
Buffy and Spike remained where they were, sharing the shelter of his coat and resigning themselves to waiting for the soldiers to give up and leave. Spike managed to roll to his side and pull Buffy closer, leaning in to run his tongue over her cheek. She squeaked and flinched away.
“Stop that!” she hissed as his arm tightened around her.
“Sorry, luv. Couldn’t resist. You’ve got scratches on that pretty face from our little crawl through the shrubbery. I was just cleaning them up.” His voice sounded much too happy about it to suit her.
“I have perfectly good soap and water back in my dorm,” she said. “Just keep your tongue to yourself.”
As she spoke, she became conscious of the way she was pressed against him, trying hard to deny how good his body felt next to hers. As if reading her mind, he lowered his head again to nuzzle her cheek as he tried to pull her even closer.
“What will we do with ourselves while we’re stuck here?” he purred, nipping on her lower lip. When she stiffened and started to speak, he sighed and loosened his grip. “Don’t get all ‘We can’t do this’ on me, Slayer. Soon as I can be sure my body’s going to obey me, we can get out of here. And since most of my parts aren’t working yet, I’d wager your virtue is safe from me. More’s the pity….” he said under his breath.
“I heard that,” she growled. “You just concentrate on the body parts you need to get working so that you can run. That one can just take a nice long rest.”
She felt his chuckle and smiled in spite of herself.
“Whatever you say, luv. Can’t make any promises with you so close, though…”
“Spike….” Her warning was clear and he sighed.
“Yeah, yeah. I got it. Time and place. This isn’t it.”
“Exactly! I mean, no! Not exactly! There is no time and place for—”
His hissed shhhh interrupted her before she could say what she did mean and they pulled closer together under the coat as they waited for what Spike had heard. In just a few seconds, the commandoes began coming back, grumbling about their lack of success. The voice that Buffy was sure she’d heard before said, “Let’s get back to base, men. At least we can tell Maggie that Hostile Seventeen is still in Sunnydale and hanging out in this neighborhood. We’ll get him next time.”
Buffy and Spike waited until his sharp hearing could no longer detect the sound of the vehicle’s motor before they crawled out of the shrubs more carefully and slowly than Buffy had dived into them.
“Problem, Slayer?” Well-protected by his leather coat, Spike had less trouble getting out without damage to his skin than Buffy did. His amusement turned to concern when she gritted out, “My hair is caught!” and he turned back to reach in and help her free it from the twigs it was caught on. He snapped the small branch off at the base and pulled her free, trying not to laugh at the small tree growing from her head.
“Not. One. Word. Spike.” She combed with her fingers until she managed to free her head from most of its leafy decoration. “Let’s go.”
Biting his tongue, he ran with her, but at a much slower pace than they normally would have used. They stuck to the shadows as much as possible, now that they knew the commandos would be looking for Spike, only emerging into the open when they had to in order to cross a wide street or the parking lot. When they were safely inside Giles’s apartment, they collapsed onto the couch, promising him they would explain as soon as they recovered from their race across town.
Giles looked back and forth between them, noting Buffy’s scratched face and arms, as well as her tangled hair, and Spike’s complete lack of energy. “What happened?” he said.
“He can tell you,” Buffy responded, rising to her feet. “I’m going to go wash out these cuts and try to do something about my hair.” She headed for the bathroom, saying over her shoulder, “He knows more about it than I do anyway.”
Giles turned to the exhausted-looking vampire. With as concerned a tone as he could mange, he asked, “Are you quite all right?” The answer wasn’t immediately forthcoming, but eventually Spike responded.
“Been better,” he said. “But been worse, too.”
“Are you going to tell me why Buffy looks like she’s run a gauntlet?”
“Not a gauntlet, just a bunch of bloody bushes in need of pruning. Was the only place we had to hide.”
“Hide? From what?”
“Those guys that captured Spike and put his chip in.” Buffy came back into the room, her small cuts already closing up and her hair somewhat tamed. “They caught him again and knocked him out. I got him out of their vampire-van, but he couldn’t move so we had to hide. The bushes were the closest place I could find.”
“Why couldn’t you move?”
“Did you miss the unconscious part? Chip went off when I tried to fight ‘em, and the wankers tasered me while I was rolling around holding my head. Didn’t wake up till the Slayer yanked me from the van, but I still couldn’t move. Dozy bint didn’t leave when I told her to, just dragged me into the bushes with her.” He frowned. “Which wasn’t as much fun as that might sound under different circumstances….”
“You told her to leave you?” Giles’s disbelief was obvious.
“Well, yeah. It’s not like those bullyboys weren’t going to want to know who she was and why she was helping one of their escaped projects, is it? And if she’d had to convince them that she was taking me whether they liked it or not, they’d have been all hot to show her off to that sadistic cow they work for…. After they recovered from whatever she may have had to do to them so we could get away,” he added, smiling at Buffy. “I expect a Slayer is a bit out of their realm of experience.”
Giles nodded. “I’m afraid you may be correct at that. She is probably much safer if they don’t know who or what she is. You will have to be careful, Buffy, that you are not seen doing anything…. unusual.”
She rolled her eyes. “Like going out patrolling every night and slaying vampires and demons? Face it, Giles. If these guys are targeting vamps and demons, it’s only a question of when, not if, we end up in the same place at the same time. I only hid tonight because of Spike. If I hadn’t been protecting him, I probably would have just told them I’d already slayed all the vamps in the house and they could go home.”
“So they never saw you?”
“Nope. They couldn’t figure out how Spike managed to break the doors after they knocked him out.” She grinned at Spike. “They probably think you’re super-vamp now.”
“By now, they’ll have noticed those handles were broken from the outside, Slayer. Just cause they don’t know about you, doesn’t mean they won’t be looking for you. You need to be careful.”
Spike and Buffy were looking at each other and didn’t see Giles’s reaction to Spike’s expression of concern. But they both heard the sigh he heaved.
“What?” Buffy stared at him.
“I’m just find it a bit difficult to accept that William the Bloody is suddenly so concerned about your welfare.” He paused. “In spite of your having possibly risked your own freedom to rescue him.”
“Nothing sudden about it,” Spike muttered while Buffy just flushed and stammered.
“I… he… we just… and then we….”
“Well, that cleared things up nicely.” With a wry expression his face, Giles stood up and faced them. “I’m going to take myself to bed. I’m assuming, Spike, with your narrow escape tonight, it is safe to trust you will not leave the building if we don’t chain you up again.”
Spike shook his head. “Don’t have the energy,” he said, “even if I was that stupid, which I’m not.”
“And, Buffy, as they didn’t see you, I presume it is safe for you to return to your dormitory tonight. Just take care that you are not seen doing anything beyond what would be possible for a normal human girl.”
“I am a normal human girl!” When both men just stared at her with raised eyebrows, she muttered, “Well, I’m human, anyway.”
“Just remember they may not see it that way, Slayer.”
“Don’t tell me what to do, Spike.”
“Right. Forgot I was the one being kept as a pet. Didn’t mean to overstep my boundaries.” With a growl, he got up and went into the kitchen to look for blood.
Waving her good-night at Giles as he went up the stairs, Buffy followed Spike into the kitchen and put her hands on her hips. “What flew up your butt?” she demanded.
He closed door of the microwave, then turned to face her, the difficulty he was having remaining calm was obvious. After taking a deep breath, he blew it out all at once and shrugged. “Sorry, Slayer. I owe you my freedom tonight. Got no right tryin’ to tell you what to do. It’s just… I… “ He turned back to the oven and took out his warmed blood, mumbling, “I worry about you.”
“What? What did you say? Look at me when you talk.”
“I said I worry about you, alright? I don’t like it when you’re out there by yourself.”
“Slayers are always by themselves, Spike. If anybody should know that, it’s you.”
“Not you,” he said. “You’ve got friends, family, a watcher that isn’t a total wanker… You’ve got help, Slayer. Use it.”
She cocked her head at him. “Are you including yourself in that group? Are you going to help me?”
“Will if you let me,” he said, moving closer to her. He set his mug down on the counter and touched her cheek with his hand. “Don’t know why I don’t want you to get hurt or killed, but it is what it is.” His voice dropped to a seductive rumble. “The world would be a boring place without you in it, and I hate being bored.”
“So,” she whispered, watching his mouth come closer to hers, “it’s just because you don’t want to be bored. That’s why you want to keep me around?”
“That’s what I’m going with for right now,” he said, brushing his lips across hers. “Seems like what will cause the least trouble.”
“We don’t want trouble…”
Buffy gave up pretending they weren’t going to kiss and shut her eyes as she leaned into him. His arms went around her waist and he pulled her closer, keeping the kiss relatively chaste, if not entirely without passion. He waited until Buffy’s tongue darted out to touch his lips before deepening the kiss and allowing his feelings free rein. Within a very few minutes, they were both breathing heavily and clinging to each other with everything they had. Buffy had her legs wrapped around Spike and was being held in place by strong hands on her butt when she realized that his body was trembling with effort. She quickly dropped to the floor and broke the kiss.
“Why didn’t you say something? I forgot you were—”
“If you think for one bloody second that I would have stopped you from wrapping those luscious legs around me, you don’t know me at all.”
“You were about to fall down,” she pointed out, letting go of his neck and reaching for the mug of blood. “Here, drink this.”
“Was not,” he muttered, taking the mug and draining it with barely concealed need. “And if we did, just means we’d be horizontal and—”
“And where we would give Giles a heart attack if he came downstairs and found us doing… whatever… on his kitchen floor!” She blushed as she thought about what they probably would have been doing if Spike hadn’t been still weakened from the night’s events.
She moved away from him, pointing to the remaining blood. “Fix yourself another mug of that stuff.”
“That stuff is what sustained a pig until someone got hungry for bacon. What I really need is—”
“Don’t say it!”
“Not saying it won’t make it not true, Slayer. You know what I need.”
“Not happening, Spike. Even if you could kill, I wouldn’t let you. You know that.”
“Don’t have to kill, luv. Willy keeps O neg on ice for me.”
“And where does Willy – who I’m going to be watching a lot closer now – get it?”
“Well, not from running down innocent victims and draining them. If I had to guess, based on how it smells and tastes, it’s old stuff from the hospital’s blood bank and new stuff donated by winos who are willing to trade blood for booze.”
“So, nobody died for it?”
“Doubt it. Even the hospital stuff was donated at one time.”
Buffy chewed her lip and watched him as he began to sip his second mug of blood. “So, if I went to Willy’s….” She yawned and walked into the living room, flopping back onto the couch. “Maybe tomorrow….”
Spike followed her into the room, putting her feet up and covering her with his coat. “Why don’t you stay here tonight, luv? It’s a long walk back to the campus, and not one I want you making by yourself.”
Buffy opened her eyes and fixed him with a lethal glare. “You don’t want? If you think a few kisses gives you the right to tell me what to do….” When he refused to back down, meeting her glare with his own stubborn expression, she added, “I’ve been walking myself home in the middle of the night for a long time, Spike. It’s kinda part of my job. Anyway, if you’re worried about those ninja guys, what could you do about it? They’d just grab you again and then what would I do?”
“Rescue me?” he said with a sigh. “You’re the hero-type person in the room.”
“I already rescued you. I don’t plan to make it a habit.”
“Wouldn’t really expect it, pet.” He walked toward the bathroom. “Be right back.”
“You don’t have to stay there tonight,” she said, sitting up and throwing off his coat. “You can sleep here. I’m going back to the dorm.”
“No you’re not. And I’m not planning to put myself in the tub, just rinsing the blood off my breath.”
Torn between wanting to be there when he came back with fresh breath and anger over his assumption that she would do what he said, Buffy paced around the room before going with anger and bolting out the door. She thought she heard a shout from the hallway, but slammed the door and took off running before he could get back to the living room.
When she’d gone a few blocks without having to deal with a pissed-off vampire, she slowed her steps and began to move more normally, already beginning to regret the long walk back to her bed. She was almost to the campus when she came upon the last person she wanted to see, also walking in that direction.
“Riley?” She eyed his dark clothing, frowning as she thought back to the familiar-sounding voice she’d heard earlier.
“Buffy? What are you doing out here at this time of night?” He seemed shocked to see her.
“I… uh… was visiting a friend,” she said with an innocent smile. “That’s it. I was visiting a friend and didn’t realize how late it was getting to be and—”
She stopped, suddenly overwhelmed with vampire tingles. “Oh crap,” she muttered, reaching for her stake. “Riley, you need to get out of here.”
“No, Buffy. You need to get out of here. Go. Now!” he shouted as the first of a large group of vampires came into view. To her surprise, he pulled out a stake of his own and proceeded to stake the over-eager fledgling that charged him. When he zapped the next one with a taser, Buffy gasped in recognition.
“You—you’re one of them!” she said, meeting her own attackers with casual ease as she carried on a conversation with Riley— who was not holding up his end of it very well.
“One of—sonovabitch—what?” he gasped as he tried to fight off several large vamps at one time. He was just aware enough to see that not only was Buffy more than holding her own, but most of the vampires seemed more willing to take their chances with him than with the quick-moving and deadly girl. Getting between the tiring human and the remaining vampires attacking him, Buffy said, “Put your back against that wall, Riley. I’ve got this.”
While he watched, his pride warring with exhaustion and astonishment, she did indeed seem to have “got this”, quickly and easily staking two of the remaining three demons. The third took off running, not looking back.
Buffy remained with her back to Riley, mentally reviewing her options for explanations. Before she had settled on a story and turned to face him, she heard a shout, “Slayer! Taser!” Her legs collapsed beneath her, and when she opened her eyes, every muscle in her body aching from the jolt of electricity, she found herself dangling from Riley’s shoulder while he spoke into a communicator of some sort.
“Yeah. I don’t know what she is, but no human could move like that. And the vamps were afraid of her. Got to be some sort of demon. I’ll bring her in and—” The communicator flew out of his hand as Spike’s Doc Marten connected with sufficient accuracy that it didn’t set off his chip.
“Put her down… gently,” Spike said, human features still to the fore, although his eyes were icy blue lasers. There was just the trace of a snarl in his voice as he went on. “Not going to ask you twice.”
“Hostile Seventeen!” Riley relaxed his stance, switching the taser to his right hand. “You can’t touch me. You know it, and I know it. I’m taking you both in.”
“No!” The sudden fear in Spike’s voice was palpable. “You can take me, but leave her out of it.”
Riley blinked his surprise, then shook his head. “Not happening. If she’s that important to you, then we definitely need to figure out what she is. I know she can walk around in the daylight, so she can’t be a vamp, but she’s not human.”
“She’s more human than you are, you miserable git,” Spike said, his features shifting. “An’ I don’t care if my head explodes, you’re not taking her anywhere.”
“She’s right here!” Buffy said, flipping herself out of Riley’s grip and grabbing the taser as she dropped to the ground. She faced the man she’d briefly considered her new boyfriend. “We’re on the same side, Riley. Well, except for the whole torturing and maiming thing you do…” She frowned. “Not sure where I was going with that. Anyway, neither one of us is going anywhere with you, so I suggest you just go back to your buddies and do some research. Try looking up “Slayer, the”.
Keeping an eye on the confused soldier, she held out a hand to Spike. “And you can’t have Spike back. He’s mine now.” She backed away, pulling Spike with her, and only breaking into a shambling run when she felt it was safe. They ran, as best they could given what their bodies had already endured, for several blocks, then slowed and began walking, hands still linked.
“You followed me,” she said.
“You saved me… again.”
Buffy stopped and pulled him to a halt facing her. “You shouldn’t have done that. You could have been back in that lab, or worse.”
“Wasn’t going to let him take you there, Buffy. Not stopping that overgrown wanker wasn’t even an option.”
“Watching you fry your brain isn’t my idea of a better option. Just so you know….”
He lifted their linked hands to his lips and kissed her knuckles. “So, what say we go back to the watcher’s and figure out what other options we might have?”
“I guess so. My dorm room probably isn’t all that safe just now….”
They began walking again, hands still linked. As neither of them had bothered to lock the door on the way out, they easily re-entered the apartment, just in time to find Giles putting on his coat.
“Oh. There you are.”
“Which one of us were you worried about?” Spike asked. “Should I be touched?”
“I was concerned that you weren’t here after giving your word that you wouldn’t leave.”
Giles glared at Spike and tried to pretend he couldn’t see that Buffy appeared to be holding hands with him.
“Slayer went off by herself and I didn’t think it was safe, so I went after her.”
Giles shook his head and shrugged out of his coat. “I don’t even want to know.”
“Giles, Riley was going to take me to the labs! He tasered me!”
His demeanor changing, Giles looked up. “He what? And who is Riley?”
“Oh, he’s the TA in my psych class… and one of the commandoes apparently. He had a stake and a taser and a thingie to talk into….” She wore an indignant scowl as she said, “He thinks I’m a demon! Me!”
Giles raised his eyebrows and looked at Spike for explanation. “Think the way she kicked the arses of a gang of vamps right in front of him may have had something to do with that. Don’t know why the wanker couldn’t just be grateful and let it go at that, but he zapped her and thought he was going to carry her off.”
“Spike saved me,” Buffy said, smiling at the vampire in a way that made Giles groan aloud. “He even tried to get Riley to take him in instead of me.”
While Buffy and Spike beamed at each other, Giles went to his desk. “I believe the Council needs to be made aware of this situation. With Faith still in a coma—” “And evil!” Buffy put in. “… yes, and evil, I am sure they will not want anything interfering with Buffy’s ability to do her duties.” He stared pointedly at Spike. “Including her forming an unfortunate relationship with another vampire.”
“None of their business,” Spike said, returning the stare, his face calm but determined. “It’s Buffy’s decision to make – not theirs, not yours, not her Scooby pals – not even mine. It’s Buffy’s.”
“Buffy is tired and achy and needs to get some sleep before she has to go to class and pretend she’s normal.”
“Quite right,” Giles agreed. “Why don’t you take the guestroom. You should be safe enough here for the night. However, I don’t believe going to campus in the morning will be in your best interests. Not until we know more about these commandoes and their purpose in Sunnydale.”
Buffy glanced at Spike, noting the sunken eyes and more than normal pallor. “You too, Spike. Get some rest. I’ll go to Willy’s in the morning and get you some real blood.” She returned Giles’s astonished glare and tilted her chin up in defiance. “He needs to get back to full strength, and that’s not going to happen fast enough on pig blood.”
“So he would like you to believe,” Giles muttered, but gave no real objection. “Try to get a few hours sleep, Buffy.”
She nodded her agreement, squeezed Spike’s hand and left him as she walked back to the guestroom. She glanced over her shoulder, but he was already collapsed on the couch looking very much like the corpse he was. With a sigh, she continued back to the bedroom and fell face first on the bed. She was asleep within seconds. In the other room, Spike gave no sign of life as Giles tried to explain to the Council’s head of security what seemed to be going on in Sunnydale. When he’d been assured that an investigation had been put in motion, and cautioned that Buffy should not risk being captured, he agreed to try to keep her hidden for a few days and ended the call.
He glanced at the dead man on his couch, checked the clock and resigned himself to being up for the day. He fixed himself a cup of coffee and settled at his desk to review what the Watchers’ Journals had to say about William the Bloody.
When Buffy came stumbling out of the guestroom shortly after dawn, she ignored both Spike and Giles to go straight to the kitchen.
“Coffee?” she asked. “Caffeiney goodness?”
“In the coffee maker,” Giles said. “But you should just go back to sleep, Buffy. The Council agrees with me that you should keep a low profile until—”
“Low profile. Is that Council-speak for hide like a scared rabbit?”
“They simply do not want you captured by someone with no idea what you are or what your mission is. I should think you’d feel the same way. After seeing what they’ve done to Spike, I can’t believe you would even consider risking capture.”
Buffy sighed, sitting down with her mug of coffee. “I don’t want to be captured, Giles. But I have a life to live. Classes to attend, friends to see, ex-boyfriend’s ass to kick…. ”
Giles stood up and put his own cup in the sink. “Well, at least promise me you will remain here until I get back. I’ll stop by Willy’s and get some blood for Spike and I’ll let Willow know that you won’t be in your dorm or in classes for a day or two. Perhaps we can come up with a safe place for you to—”
“If you say ‘hide’, I’m outta here.” Buffy glared at him, hands on hips, her obvious grumpiness at her lack of sleep lending more weight than usual to the intimidating stare.
Giles sighed, spotting Spike’s bleary and barely open eyes peering over the couch at them. “You talk to her,” he said. “Perhaps she will listen to you.”
“’Right, because that worked so well last night,” Spike scoffed, sitting up and stretching. “Be wasting the breath I don’t have.”
“At least the vampire knows better,” Buffy said. “He knows not to try to tell me what to do. Too bad the Council doesn’t.”
“Buffy, are you opposed to choosing the sensible option just because the Council has recommended it? Because, I must tell you, that would be disappointingly short-sighted and stubborn of you.” Giles gave his own glare right back at Buffy, holding it until she dropped her eyes and shrugged.
“No. Maybe? What difference does it make?” She turned her glare on Spike. “I think you’re all ganging up on me.”
“Because we’re all trying to keep you from being bloody stupid and getting yourself turned into a science experiment like me?” Spike was on his feet; the snarl in his voice would have been frightening if it weren’t for his words.
“I’ll just leave you two to work this out,” Giles said as he put on his coat and walked to the door. “Do try to do so without destroying my apartment, if you don’t mind. I’ll bring Spike’s disgusting nourishment back with me.”
Buffy stared at her coffee mug, then shrugged and put it back in the kitchen. “If I don’t have to go to class, I might as well try to get some more sleep” she said. She stared at Spike’s still-sunken eyes. “You too. Until we get some good nutrition into you – and I can’t believe I actually called what you eat nutrition –” She shuddered. “Until you’re doing better, you might as well rest too.”
“Would rest better if I had some company…” he said, sitting down and patting the cushion beside him.
When Buffy couldn’t smother the yawn that accompanied her headshake, he smiled ruefully. “Wasn’t asking you for anything but your company, luv. Know how tired you must be, and if I was being honest, I’d admit to still be a bit knackered myself…. Not that I couldn’t if you wanted to—” he hastened to add when she raised a skeptical eyebrow. “I could and would. In a heartbeat. If you wanted… Did you want to—?”
Buffy couldn’t help laughing at his sudden panic. Shaking her head and still laughing, she walked to the couch and leaned over the back to pat him on the head. “Down boy,” she said with a warm smile. “I’m not interested – not now, anyway. We need to rest, you need to get your strength back….”
Spike grabbed her hand and used it pull her over the back of the couch and into his lap. “Got all the strength I need,” he said, nuzzling her neck and visibly inhaling her scent. “But, wouldn’t push you, Buffy. Just don’t see the point of us being so far apart when the watcher isn’t here to object.” He leaned to one side and stretched out, holding Buffy’s rigid body and whispering soothing promises about respecting her wishes until she relaxed against him and snuggled into his embrace. She threw one leg across his to help anchor herself to the couch and rested her head on his chest.
“You better not be lying…”
“You have my word, luv. Go back to sleep.”
“”k. Promise you’ll be here when I wake up? In case I need saving or something…”
“Not going anywhere, Buffy. I’ll be here whenever you want–or need–me.”
“My hero…” She trailed off with a sigh, asleep before she could finish her sentence.
“Not a bloody hero,” he growled, then lowered his voice. “But I am yours. Always will be.”
Originally posted at http://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/492224.html