Three days. Three long days of side glances and soft touches and little contented sighs and…
They hadn’t talked about what had happened between them. Or, what had very nearly happened until Buffy realized that, one, sex with an open wound was probably not such a great idea, and two, there were about a hundred demons in that hallway and at least ten had a direct line of sight into her cell. It was weird to think that if Spike were less of a gentleman, he could have tried to convince her rather than taking no for an answer. She was sure there were ways to not be seen.
He could have shielded her with his duster, for example. Opened up the secret toilet and used it as a seat and let her wear the coat. The fact that she’d spent a good amount of time after she’d come down from the euphoria high thinking of all the ways they could have sex without anything being seen should have been… At least a little bit of a concern to her? A red flag that said ‘you’re getting too close!’? Her Slayer sense should have been screaming at her. Danger. Vampire. Kill it.
Yeah, not so much.
She couldn’t explain it, exactly. She really should have been freaked out by what had happened. But… Truth be told, she’d been attracted to Spike since he’d first come to town, back when he really did want to kill her. As screwed up as that was. But she’d figured, you know, she was just a teenager then. The whole mysterious bad boy thing was like, her thing back then. Their second meeting, at the school, when he’d run his hand down his stomach… It had sent all kinds of shivers through her. The way he said he felt all manly…
He’d done the same gesture when he had the Gem of Amara, when he asked about Parker. And the more she thought back on that whole conversation, and their fight, the more it seemed like maybe Spike had just been jealous. Maybe a little mad. That growl when he’d slammed her into the light post was far more possessive than aggressive. It was practically a purr. And it made so much more sense now.
It was pretty much always like that, whenever they’d inevitably meet up to kick each other’s asses. He was always making comments, and they were always suggestive. She was always calling him a pig, but… Well, Mr. Gordo was a pig and he was all soft and cuddly and comforting, so how much of an insult was that, really? Really, it was just two long years of foreplay, and what happened between them had been an eventuality. Not a question of if, but when.
And therein was the thing her mind kept swirling around. The when. And she couldn’t put that into words. She didn’t know what she wanted. She didn’t know what would happen when they got out. She didn’t even know what would happen from one day to the next. They could rip him away from her in an instant, and she’d never see him again, and that terrified her. She’d grown attached. And she liked what they had. It was comfortable, and it brought her a sense of security and confidence. Like no matter what Walsh wanted to throw at her, she could face it, as long as Spike was there. Without him, she wasn’t so sure of that.
“What’s keeping you up tonight, Slayer?”
“Brain won’t shut up.” she replied simply, trying not to think too hard about how tingly his voice was making her feel. Especially since she was thinking about how tingly it had made her feel when she’d been a stupid sixteen-year-old with no sense. As opposed to a now twenty-year-old with clearly no sense.
“What’s on your mind?”
She sighed, trying to think of how to word everything. It would be so simple to just say, I can’t stop thinking about the other day. Simple, but not easy, and it would complicate things more than they already were. She couldn’t have a relationship with him, and she wasn’t even sure she wanted one. She wasn’t one for unattached, one night stands either. The whole awful mess with Parker had proved that. So where did that leave them? How was she supposed to address that with him? How was she supposed to ask him about how he felt?
“A lot of things,” she finally replied. Vague. “Too many things.” More of the super vague.
He shifted behind her, adjusting his legs so he could pull her back flush against his chest. It used to calm her down, when he did that. Now it just made her think about… how good it felt when their skin was touching in a different way, and how much better it could feel if she’d just let it happen. But she couldn’t. Not now.
God, his voice was like silk, almost a purr, but full of command, and it pooled low in her gut. Which was exactly what she’d wanted to avoid. It made it harder to think, harder to make words. And when he started trailing his fingers lightly up and down her arms, she couldn’t help but lean her head back against his collar bone. She didn’t realize she’d bared her throat to him until his lips pressed against her pulse point. She took in a sharp breath, her heart leaping in her chest.
No, no, no. Bad Buffy.
“Spike, I-” I can’t do this. She wanted to pull away from him, clear her head enough to put her thoughts into words. Words that wouldn’t hurt him, because somehow… She cared about that now. She huffed out a breath, trying to steel herself. “I don’t know what we are anymore.”
“Know what you mean.” He sighed, then settled his arms on his knees. At least he wasn’t doing the gentle arm stroking any more. That made it easier for her to think. “I want you. That much is obvious.” He let out an exasperated laugh. “Know I shouldn’t. Know how wrong that is, for us. I’m not an idiot.”
“That makes two of us then. But I can’t…”
“Don’t tell me you can’t sleep with a vampire. I know otherwise.”
“That’s not-” Why was it so hard for her to just say it? “I can’t do… casual.”
He went quiet, and she let it be. He wasn’t shoving her off of him, or telling her she was a tease or a prude or anything else she’d been afraid of. He was just… there. Like he’d been for the last few weeks. Still being her comfort in a world of terrible things.
And she had no idea how to feel about that. It almost… it almost felt like being with Angel again, but different. Peaceful. There wasn’t all the veiled… everything. With Angel, it was like he went nuts in a bridal shop. Veiled intentions. Meanings. Melodrama. With Spike, there wasn’t any of that. Well, very little of it at least.
“I’m sorry. Whatever this is, it can’t-“
“Look. I want you. You want me. Fine. We can leave it at that. Doesn’t have to mean anything.””
He made things sound so simple. But how was she supposed to just pretend that it wasn’t different between them now? How was she supposed to go back to the way things were before? Did they just go back to verbal sparring matches and hating each other? Did he go back to trying to find a way to kill her? There was so much uncertainty now. She didn’t know where he stood on it, and she wasn’t ready to ask. He wasn’t ready to tell. If it didn’t have to mean anything, then…
Why did she get the feeling that it already did?
“We can make the best of a bad situation. Deal with the rest later, yeah?” He wrapped his arms around her around her and pulled her closer to him, one hand coming to rest on her head. His fingers combed through her hair, soothing her nerves.
“How much longer are we gonna be stuck in here?” she asked absently.
“Hard to say. Why? Getting tired of me already, are you?
“No!” she answered, too quickly. “No… I’m just… I need to be out there.”
He chuckled and pushed her into a sitting position. “Getting the itch? Could try to spar, if you’re feeling up to it. Can’t hit you back, of course, but I can be a good punching bag.”
“Yeah?” That perked her up. The idea of hitting something, even if it was just a sparring match, was a welcome distraction. At least she’d be moving, instead of sitting and being doted on. Not that she was exactly complaining about that, but… She could only take so much of that before it started driving her crazy. “You want to be my dummy?”
“Watch it, missy. Don’t make the headache worth it.”
The Riley guy didn’t need much introduction for Xander to hate his guts. As soon as Giles got the words ‘responsible for her capture’ out of his mouth, Xander had landed an admittedly weak punch to the guy’s jaw. Not that he had to hit him hard to cause a lot of pain, since it looked like he’d gone a few rounds with a fire dancing bodybuilder. Bruises and burns and cuts and who knew what else that was hidden. It was the principle of it. Dick bag.
Apparently all the damage had been done by Giles, which was… scary. Just a librarian. Sure. Xander did his best to ignore the method, and focus on the results. Besides, he probably deserved whatever it was Giles had done to him. Buffy had been in there way too long, and it was all on Riley’s shoulders.
But they were finally going to get her back. After weeks and weeks of her being in that place, there was a plan coming together. Not a great plan, exactly, but it was way better than sitting around twiddling their fingers and staring at books and trying to sneak into the military base a second time. They had an inside man, even! The cornerstone of any infiltration operation being a success. You always had to have an inside man. Maybe they’d even get to use the rocket launcher again. They still had it, after all.
Everybody was crowded around the kitchen table, which was covered in an array of maps and hand drawn schematics. Every eye was on Riley as he did the commando thing and laid their plan out. Ethan wasn’t restrained anymore, Xander couldn’t help but notice. But hey, if Giles could flip a military operative in an afternoon, maybe he’d brought Ethan around to the side of good, too. He did have one of those ‘pivotal’ roles, so Xander certainly hoped he was trustworthy enough to follow through.
“This is the entrance to tunnel seventy two. Just a tool shed out on a dirt road, but it’ll get you directly into the secured laboratories. Soldiers don’t have the credentials to get in there. As far as I know, only top clearance scientists have the code. That would be Walsh or Engleman.”
Riley slid a huge piece of paper to the center of the table, pointing to one section.
“These are the secured labs. I don’t know specifics, I haven’t been in there. The entrance is here.” He pointed at another section, just across from the secured labs. “This is the pit. Chances are, that’s where you’ll find Walsh and Engleman. You want them in custody as quickly as possible. You’ll need the leverage.”
“Even though you’re going to have…most of the soldiers out of there?” Xander asked dubiously. Double agent or not, he didn’t trust Riley. He was stupid enough to think Buffy of all people was a monster, just because she was super strong.
“Yes. There are security agents that aren’t field ops. Here. This is the entrance to the containment area. That’s where you’re going to find Buffy and Spike. If they’re still in the same cell, it’s located here. If you don’t see Walsh or Engleman at the pit, they’re going to be in this section, with Buffy. It’s her… testing area.”
“Her torture chamber.” Giles corrected pointedly.
“Yes.” He looked down, avoiding the stares of every person in the room, all of which would happily cause him pain. “Your escape route is going to bring you out on campus. It’s a low ceiling, so you’re going to need to crouch.” He laid out a campus map, one area circled. “This is where you’ll come out. Run, and I do mean run, to this parking lot. I’ll make sure there’s a military grade vehicle there. I’ll take the tracker off of it, put it on a civilian vehicle to confuse them. It’ll be stocked with medical supplies, weapons. Typical stuff you might need.”
“And we’re supposed to just… trust that you’re going to follow through with this? That we won’t be walking into a trap?” For once Xander was happy that his girlfriend said the thing that everybody else was thinking.
“No.” Giles sat a small box on top of the pages. “We aren’t taking that chance.” He opened it, revealing a very wriggly, slimy, gross looking thing that looked almost like a tiny leech. Minus the freaky tendrils that it was whipping around angrily.
“Ew, what the hell is that?” Willow looked at it a little close, then backed away when those little tendrils stretched toward her.
“This is essentially… a kill switch. We’ve agreed to terms of his release. The spell binds us to that agreement. And if he breaks it… Well, this nasty little bugger is going to fry his brain.”
“Cool.” Anya looked at it like a kid in a candy store. “Those are probably pretty rare, huh? Dammit. Of course you have one just laying around.”
“I’m a librarian, Anya. I had an Orb of Thesulah as a paperweight.”
“Right. Of course you did.” She mumbled something under her breath, arms crossed as she shot a glare at Giles as she did so. Probably jealous of his collection of rare things that could net her lots of money.
“We’re getting off track.”
Giles was way bad moody. Like, more than his usual bad mood self. Xander didn’t have time to think about why that might be, and what it meant though. He had to be paying attention to what the giant walking dick was saying.
“Willow, Tara. You two will be concentrating on the protection spell. I won’t have you two put in danger. I’ll escort you to a safehouse, and you’ll remain there until I contact you. The materials you will need are already there. Supplies as well. Pack a bag, but pack light. It may well be a few days or more before it’s safe to come get you.”
“O-of course.” Tara nodded enthusiastically, a little smile sneaking in.
“Won’t let you down.”
“Anya, you and Xander will be helping Ethan. You have the most knowledge of language. If something he’s casting seems wrong, Xander is to disable him.”
Anya did her happy dance, which meant to say… She bounced up and down and clapped. And bounced. And bounced. “Ooh, goody! This sounds fun!”
“Ethan, you know what your role is. Don’t squander this opportunity. This is the only time I’ll be approving such activities.”
“Are you sure about this, Giles?” Xander still didn’t like the idea of Giles going into a military base on his own, with no back up waiting in the wings, or anywhere nearby.
“One hundred percent. One person is much less noticeable than a small group. It will be easier. And if I am captured, I trust that the rest of you will figure out another plan.”
“I can buy you as much time as I can, but once that alarm goes off, they’re gonna recall the ops. Once somebody notices you, you have maybe a half hour, if that, before three teams of our most experienced are in there looking for you.”
“I trust that you will. Although, if for some reason you don’t, I’ll have three teams minus a man trying to figure out why you’re suddenly frothing at the mouth and there’s blood coming out of your eyes. Either way, there’ll be something to occupy their time and attention. This only dislodges itself once the terms are met.”
“Yes, you…explained that.”
“For the record, that means until she is out of there. Whether this mission is successful or not, you’ll still be bound by the spell to help her. Leverage, like you said. I believe I have a firm grasp of that concept.”
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