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Chapter Six

When Joyce came upstairs several hours later, she found Buffy and Spike sound asleep in their respective beds. She watched them for a few minutes, surprised at how alive Spike appeared to be, in spite of his paleness. His chest rose and fell occasionally, just as would a human’s, although the vampire’s unnecessary breaths came much farther apart than did Buffy’s.

Searching around Spike’s bare-bones “kitchen”, she found an extension cord and plugged in the coffee pot that she had optimistically brought along. From their previous times hiding in the crypt, she had already known about the water available downstairs and had brought empty jugs with her so that she could bring it up with her. She fixed herself a bowl of cereal and waited for the others to wake up.

The scent of the coffee soon had Buffy stirring, and she sat up, blinking sleep-filled eyes at her mother.

“Good morning,” she mumbled, tentatively testing her shoulders and wincing as they reminded her that even slayer healing didn’t always work overnight.

“Good morning,” Joyce whispered back. “Shouldn’t we be quiet?” She gestured to where Spike had rolled over and put a pillow over his head.

“He’s a vampire. He should be dead to the world at this time of the...morning? It is still morning, isn’t it?”

“Yes. Not terribly early, but then, we were all up until the wee hours, so I guess ten can’t be considered late.”

Buffy groaned and stood up, staring at herself ruefully. “I’m a mess! I think I’ll run home and get a hot shower and change of clothes. I need to give Spike back his shirt, anyway.”

The now-awake vampire mumbled something into his pillow and Buffy walked over to lean down and ask, “Did you say something?”

He rolled over and looked up at her with eyes that were only half-open. The heavy-lidded look made Buffy tingle in very inappropriate places and she stepped back hastily.

“I said,” he purred,” I like my shirt on you.”

“Oh.” She blushed and glanced over to see if her mother had heard him. “Well, as much as I appreciate the loan, I think I should change into something of my own. I’ll wash and dry it while I’m home so that—“


“Don’t? Don’t what?”

“Don’t wash it. Bring it back just the way it is.”

“Spike! It’s all bloody and smelly and I slept in it. Why don’t you want...” Her eyes grew big as she watched his intent face and understood why he didn’t want it washed. “I think, I think that’s kind of...ewwww,” she said very softly so that her mother wouldn’t hear.

“You think it is? But you’re not sure?” His expression turned hopeful, and she took a deep breath.

“Look...I know I...and maybe... mixed signals...and I kinda do...but, I can’t...and—” She broke off and met his eyes firmly. “I have a boyfriend, Spike. A nice, normal, human boyfriend who loves me.”

“Who you forgot all about when you were roundin’ up everybody who was important to you.”

It was Buffy’s turn to say, “Don’t. Okay? I don’t have time for this right now – so just...just don’t. Please?”

He shut his eyes and nodded. “You’re right, pet. Time and place. I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be sorry,” she whispered. “Just be...patient.”

His lips curved into a smile; eyes still shut, he murmured, “I’ll try, Slayer. But don’t wash the shirt, yeah?”

“Yeah,” she promised softly, before walking over to join her mother for some liquid energy.

“So,” she said brightly, “what are you and Dawn going to do today?”

“I have a doctor’s appointment at the hospital early this afternoon,” Joyce said with a frown. “I think I’d better keep it. They’re going to give me the test results.”

Buffy’s face fell. “The hospital? But that’s the worst--”.

Giles’ smooth voice interrupted her as he joined them. “It will be fine, Buffy,” he said quietly. “I’ll go with your mother. It’s possible that we can kill two birds with one stone.” His eyes were hard, and colder than she had ever seen them.

“Giles – I can’t...”

“Nor do I expect you to,” he continued. His expression and voice softened. “Let me do this for you, Buffy. In return for all you’ve given the world.”

“Maybe Spike...” Buffy cast a look at the vampire coming to join the conversation.

“Would if I could, love. Will, if I have to,” he added, exchanging a look with the watcher. “Not gonna let her have the Bit.”

Joyce watched the exchange with a puzzled frown, having no idea what they were talking about, but feeling somehow reassured that both Giles and Spike would be accompanying her.

“Okay then.” Buffy let out her breath with a loud sigh. “I’m going to finish my coffee and head home for a hot shower and clean clothes. I’ll meet you at the hospital.”

After Buffy left, smiling to herself at Spike’s “no” head shake when he pointed to the shirt she was wearing, Giles began to organize the others for the day. When he told Ethan that Riley had been in the cemetery the previous night, the mage was immediately ready to leave.

“So, you really did escape then, did you?” Giles asked wryly. “They didn’t let you go because you were driving them crazy?”

Ethan grinned, looking briefly very much like the handsome young man Ripper had met so many years ago.

“I did my best,” he said proudly. “I’m not sure how hard they actually tried to find me once I made it outside. But, if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not find out the hard way that Buffy’s incredibly dense boyfriend isn’t aware that they’d rather not have me back.”

“He is a bit thick, sometimes,” Giles agreed without meaning to provide the other man with information that he could use against them.

“If he can’t see that his girlfriend is much better suited to spend whatever time she is allotted on this earth with that delicious blond thing over there, he isn’t just thick, he’s a bloody piece of granite.”

“Considering Spike’s inability to defend himself, I suspect it is in everyone’s best interest if that thought never occurs to Riley.”

Ethan gazed speculatively across the room, then shrugged and, with a courtly ‘good-bye’ to Joyce, he walked away. Before he opened the door to allow the deadly sunshine into the crypt, he motioned to Spike to join him there. He handed the vampire a small card, whispering as he did so, “When you’re ready to be rid of that chip, call the number on here.”

He waved and opened the door, slipping out quickly before the astonished vampire could say anything. Spike calmly put the card in his pocket and closed the heavy wooden door before turning to find Giles staring at him suspiciously. He sauntered over to the kitchen and took his blood out of the refrigerator, ignoring the watcher as he poured it into a mug and put the mug in the microwave.

“He can’t be trusted, you know,” Giles finally said. “No matter what he told you; you can’t trust him.”

“’m not stupid, Watcher,” Spike said quietly. “But I’m keepin’ the card. Just in case.”


Buffy reached her home just as Riley’s big SUV pulled into her driveway. She smothered an exasperated sigh and waited for him to get out, a smile plastered on her bruised face.

“Buffy! Where have you been? I’ve been looking all over for you.”

She winced with guilt at the hurt tone in his voice.

“I’m sorry, Riley. I took everybody over to Spike’s yesterday, and then Glory kidnapped me and I just never had time to call you.”

“You had time to go to Spike’s, but not time to call me?”

She rolled her eyes and walked up to unlock the front door. “Which part of I took everybody over there didn’t you hear? I was busy rounding up everybody I thought Glory might go after.”

“You didn’t think she’d go after me?” He sounded so indignant that Buffy almost laughed aloud.

“I don’t think she’s seen you with me enough to know that you might make a good hostage,” she said soothingly. “Besides, how would you have reacted if I’d asked you to stay with Spike so that he could protect you from Glory and her minions?”

Riley followed her in the door, having the grace to look ashamed as he admitted, “I would have refused – and been pissed off that you suggested it.”

“There you go,” she said with a smile. “And the rest of the time I was kinda busy – what with the being chained up and beaten, and all.”

“You were—oh my god! I just realized how awful you look. I’m sorry, Buffy. I should have noticed sooner. You look terrible!”

“Thanks,” she said, making a face and trying not to compare Riley’s appalled expression with Spike’s grateful “You look beautiful. I was afraid I’d be rescuing’ a body.”
“I’m going to take care of that right now. I’m going to have a nice long hot shower, wash the scabby, little creature blood out of my hair and then go meet my mom at the hospital.”

“I could help you out with that,” he said with smile, reaching for her. “It’s been a long time since we had a chance to share a shower...”

She bit back her “I don’t need any help,” and said instead, “I’m sorry, Riley. But I’m really tired and beat up. I think a hot shower – by myself – is the way to go today. Some other time, huh?”

“Yeah, sure. Some other time.” He watched her walk towards the stairs and asked quickly, “How did you get away? If Glory had you chained up?”

“Oh, the Scoobies formed a posse and came to get me. Eth—“ She stopped, remembering that Ethan had escaped from military prison.


“E..eek! I thought I saw a mouse run into the kitchen – and I said ‘eek’.”

Riley nodded dubiously, looking at the kitchen floor suspiciously. “So, the Scoobies came to get you? Why didn’t they call me to help?”

“I guess there wasn’t any time. They saw what Glory was doing to me and just took off. There’s no phone in Spike’s crypt, you know.”

He shook his head. “I don’t understand why you guys don’t get cell phones.”

“Look, I’m going to go get cleaned up, okay? Why don’t you wait down here and you can give me a ride to the hospital?”

Looking a bit disgruntled at not being invited to wait for her in her bedroom, he sat down on the couch and flipped on the television while Buffy went upstairs. He watched with interest as the noon newscaster talked about an overnight disturbance at a high-end apartment building on the edge of town. Apparently there had been a huge commotion on the top floor, and residents were insisting that people carrying swords had run through the lobby. One woman smiled as she indicated that she had seen someone climbing up the outside of the building before the disturbance began. She waxed quite enthusiastic about the man’s blond hair and incredible strength, and Riley’s eyebrows began to pull together in a frown. When she got to where she talked about seeing several people climbing down a rope made of chains and sheets, including the first man who seemed to be carrying a small blonde woman as he descended, Riley began to curse.

Happily oblivious of her boyfriend’s growing anger, Buffy carefully put Spike’s shirt on the counter in the bathroom and stepped under the hot water. She luxuriated in the heat for several minutes before beginning to wash the dried blood from her hair. When she had scrubbed herself clean, and let the hot water beat down upon her shoulders until they felt almost normal, she turned the shower off and got out.

Once she was dried off and dressed again, her wet hair combed and held back in loose ponytail, she picked up Spike’s shirt and shook her head at it. The idea of not washing it was not very appealing, but she had promised; she grabbed a trash bag from under the sink and stuffed the shirt into it, then went downstairs.

Where she found Riley fuming on the couch.

“I thought you said the Scoobies rescued you?” he accused before she even got into the room. “Didn’t you leave somebody out? Or something?”

At first Buffy thought he had somehow figured out that Ethan was there, then she realized who he was talking about.

“It was a group effort,” was all she said, wadding the bag with Spike’s shirt into a very small ball and dropping it into a nearby wastebasket.

“Since when is Spike part of the group?”

“Since he allowed himself to get beaten up several times already, trying to help me take Glory out,” she snapped. “What the hell is wrong with you? Spike is the strongest ally I’ve got right now. Even you should be able to see that,” she muttered.

“Oh, that’s right,” Riley said quietly. “I remember now. ‘If I wanted somebody with superpowers, I’d be dating Spike’. Yeah, I think I see it, all right.”

Guilt at the way she was beginning to rely on the vampire for more than just his added muscle kept her from continuing the argument.

“Look, Riley. I’m sorry that I didn’t mention Spike. I assumed that since everyone was staying in his home, you would know that he was there too.” She sighed and met his angry eyes sympathetically. “I have a Hellgod to find and slay, and my mother is getting her test results this afternoon. I just don’t have time to deal with your jealousy. I’m sorry, all right? When this is all over, we can talk about it. Right now, I just need to get to the hospital quickly.”

He nodded, holding the door open for her. “Fine,” he said tightly. “Just answer this for me – IS there something to talk about?”

She thought about Spike’s gentle hands, his soft lips as he’d cast off his demon to stop her bleeding wrists, and the way she’d felt when she saw the woman staring at him like he was something to eat.

“I don’t know,” she said quietly. “I don’t know, Riley.”
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