At Wolfram and Hart, an exasperated Wesley was trying to explain to Illyria why she couldn’t just kill Buffy for taking her pet away.
“He does not belong to her,” she stated with finality. “I do not give her permission to talk with him or to touch him.”
“I don’t believe that Buffy is very interested in asking anyone’s permission…for anything. At least, that has been my experience with her.”
“You know this arrogant lower being?”
“Yes, I was her Watcher for a while – a very short, unsuccessful while, I might add.”
“You watched her? What did she do? Why were you watching?” If anything, the demi-god’s voice had taken on an even more offended tone. If Spike was her pet, Wesley was so much more than that. She didn’t understand why she felt so comfortable in his presence, and she knew that it was sometimes painful for him to be around her, but not understanding it had no effect on her belief that he was hers even more so than the vampire.
“I’m really not up to explaining about slayers and watchers to you right now. Search your—Fred’s-- memories and you’ll get it.” His face settled into the stubborn sad lines that she had learned meant that he did not want to talk to her anymore and she transferred her attention back to the vampire who had just re- entered the room.
“Not now, your royal blueness. Really not in the mood,” he growled when she approached him.
“I do not want this “slayer” around here. Everyone is behaving strangely now.”
“Yeah, well, you’d be the expert on that, pet.” Spike managed to grin at her offended expression before he left the open area to find an empty office in which to rest and think about what Buffy had said.
He had just settled himself into the big leather couch in Gunn’s office when Eve strolled in and perched on the edge of the desk.
“Women trouble?” she asked with a sympathetic smile that didn’t reach her eyes.
“Not till you showed up.”
“Hey! I’m just trying to be helpful here. A friendly ear and all that. Somebody who knows the score.”
“Didn’t know there was a score,” Spike said without opening his eyes. “But if there was one, I don’t think a useless bint like you would be keepin’ it.”
“It’s just an expression. I thought you might like to know what Angel has planned for the evening.”
“Not even if his plans include dinner with your blonde girlfriend?”
“Not my girlfriend.”
“Okay. I’ll leave you alone to brood. I just thought you might want to know that he was putting some moves on her. My mistake.“
Without another word, she walked to the door, hips swaying and a small smile on her face.
Her entry into Angel’s office was equally unwelcome, the vampire not even bothering to look up as he said, “Get out, Eve. We’re busy here.”
“That’s not very friendly of you, Angelus,” she purred. “You’d think that now that we’re going to be on the same side—“
“I am not on your ‘side’. You’re an employee, a minion, and I am about to become one of your bosses. So when I tell you to get out, I suggest you take the advice.” To emphasize his point, he glanced up, his eyes now amber and his fangs clearly visible.
Even as she stepped back, involuntarily recoiling from the vampire’s true face, she was shrugging and saying casually, “Fine. If I’m not on your side, then you won’t want me telling you about the way your blonde girlfriend looks at Spike when you’re not around to see. Or the way she talks about him…”
Another satisfied smile on her face, Eve strolled out of the snarling vampire’s office and headed for the elevators; the address of the Hyperion firmly fixed in her memory.
Buffy walked into the lobby of the Hyperion, still maintaining an iron control over her emotions as she concentrated on the mission. She was pleased to see that Willow had begun organizing everyone - assigning rooms, designating a triage area for the inevitable injuries, and arranging for a group of slayers to hit the local grocery warehouse store to stock the bare pantry.
“Looks good, Will. Thanks for getting the ball rolling.”
“No problem. These are good girls – they just needed a bit or organizing…” She paused to study the shelves in the pantry. “Do you think if I color code—“
“No!” At Willow’s disappointed frown, she clarified. “This isn’t really our property, you know. It’s Angel’s. I don’t think we should go around color coding his stuff without permission.”
“Oh.” Willow’s disappointment was short-lived and she perked up quickly. “I suppose you’re right. I’ll just have to think of something else.” She looked at Buffy’s tight face and asked carefully, “So, how did the meeting go? The girls said that you left with…with Spike.”
Buffy nodded curtly. “I got the whole story. I think we need to brace ourselves for another apocalypsy-type battle. Angel’s pissing off some pretty big forces of evil.”
“I meant, how did the meeting with Spike go?” Willow said wryly. “Or are you being avoidy-girl?”
Buffy sighed, allowing her shoulders to slump for the first time since she’d left Spike standing in park.
“I’m being avoidy-girl, I guess. I’m sorry, Willow. I’m just not ready to talk about it right now. I’d rather concentrate on something I can beat up on – like an apocalypse.”
“Okay, well, I’m here if you need to talk. I mean, I’m here, even if you don’t need to talk, but…”
Buffy smiled at her oldest friend. “I got it, Will. And as soon as I figure out what’s going on, we’ll talk, I promise.”
“Maybe I can help with that.” The voice floated in from the door to the pantry and both girls whirled to stare at the sleekly-groomed woman smiling at them.
“Who are you? And help with what?”
Eve strolled into the small room, holding out her hand, which Buffy automatically shook even as she repeated, “Who are you – and what are you doing here?”
“I’m Eve. I’m a friend of Angel’s…and Spike’s.”
“Funny, neither on of them mentioned you…” Buffy ran her eyes over the expensive dress and shoes as well as the insincere smile, and squeezed Eve’s hand a little harder than she needed to.
“Ow!” Eve snatched her hand away, and glared at Buffy. “Just for that, I don’t think I’ll tell you about Spike and Harmony.”
“Harmony?” Willow and Buffy spoke in unison. “Spike and Harmony?”
“Oops! I guess I slipped, didn’t I? My bad.” With another insincere smile, Eve turned to leave.
“What. About. Spike. And. Harmony?”
Eve waved her hand carelessly. “It’s not important. He said you aren’t his girlfriend, so I guess it doesn’t matter if you know.“
“Know what?” Buffy’s teeth were clenched and she advanced on the smirking woman with purpose.
“Oh, you know…” Eve waved her hand around again. “Just what happened when Spike stopped being a ghost. When he was solid again, he was…solid. If you get my drift. The first thing he did was grab Harmony and take her into one of the empty offices.”
She watched Buffy’s face crumple, then smiled again. “It wasn’t to pick up a phone to call you. But, then, you already knew that, didn’t you?”
Willow looked back and forth between the two women, torn between comforting Buffy and causing Eve to grow warts on her nose. Before she could decide, the other woman was gone as silently and quickly as she’d appeared.
“Buffy, I’m sor—“ She stopped when Buffy held up her hand.
“It’s all right, Will. I already got the memo that he had a life here. This is Spike. It only makes sense that it included a woman.”
“I didn’t say it makes sense that he would have shown good taste when he did it.”
“I am so turning him into a toad,” Willow grumbled under her breath. “Harmony, too. Ugly little toads with fangs.”
“Let it go. I didn’t come here for Spike. We’re here to help with the apocalypse. I have to keep my mind on the mission.”
She set her jaw in a way that suggested more conversation would not be welcome and Willow swallowed the rest of the sympathetic words she’d had ready, instead just nodding silently. When the younger slayers came through the door carrying bags and boxes of groceries, she began showing them where to put things and never noticed Buffy’s departure.
After another look around the lobby showed her that all was going well, Buffy went to her room and locked the door behind her. It wasn’t until she was in the shower that she allowed the tears that she’d been holding back since her first sight of Spike to flow. The hot water ran down her face, washing away her fantasies about what their reunion would be like and leaving her clear-eyed and determined.
I don’t know who that bitch was, but if she thinks that telling me that Spike is back with Harmony is going to change the way I feel about him, she doesn’t know me very well. And she doesn’t’ know Spike very well if she thinks he would stay with that ditz if – when – I convince him that I meant it when I said I loved him.
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