Chapter Notes:

Takes place immediately following Chapter 2.

Occurs during an alternate version of “Goodbye Iowa”. Some dialogue taken from this episode and I take no credit for them, though they may have been repurposed for this story.

Some dialogue also taken from “Fright House of a Lighthouse” from the What’s New Scooby-Doo? series and I also take no credit for that!


Following his bargain with Buffy, Spike had followed her back into Xander’s basement and tried not to let the depression at returning get the better of him. It seemed to Spike that it took hours for the Scoobies to decide on sleeping arrangements and get settled for sleep. At first, demon girl hadn’t wanted to give up having Xander in her bed, complaining of her many lost orgasms, but ultimately gave in to the group’s idea to have the three girls in the bed and the males of the group dispersed around the main room in sleeping bags. Spike couldn’t care less how they arranged themselves, but in the general mayhem, he had managed to snag a spot in a sleeping bag right next to the door. He then waited until he was sure everyone was asleep before easing out of the sleeping bag and silently leaving through the basement door. As he sprinted away in the direction of Ethan’s motel, he didn’t notice that the Slayer had awakened and had quietly slipped out after him.


 

As Buffy followed Spike, careful to stay far enough back so he couldn’t sense her, she couldn’t believe how disappointed she was. Had she really thought she could trust him? Was it really a surprise to find him sneaking out after they all went to bed? If she were honest with herself, the answer was yes, Buffy HAD thought she could trust Spike. That surprised her. What had led to her believing that? Yes, she had made a truce with him two years ago to take down Angelus, but he’d kidnapped her friend’s the next year when he wanted that love potion and he tried to kill her just a few months ago when he had the Gem of Amara. She shook her head, trying to shake off the last of her sleep, and wondered (not for the first time) why Spike had not succeeded in killing her then. He had taken her totally by surprise on campus – she could admit that, to herself at least. He could have bitten and drained her before she knew what was happening. But instead he punched her and then as she lay there he just waxed on about what a nice day it was! It was almost as if he didn’t actually want to kill her?

Buffy’s mind skittered to that place she actively tried to avoid, the time when she was engaged to Spike. She never did get a forgetting spell from Willow to erase what had happened during the “will be done” spell. Now, Buffy suddenly realized how thoughtful Spike had been during their betrothal, helping to find a spell to reverse Giles’ blindness and joining her when going to find Willow, even though he didn’t yet know he could fight demons. Much as she may try to fool herself, she didn’t think the spell affected all of his behavior. She herself hadn’t felt different than “Buffy” so she suspected that Spike was acting like “Spike” would…if he were in love. It actually had been, well, really nice….again, IF she were being honest.

Just where exactly is Spike going in such a hurry? Buffy grumbled to herself. Wait! Where did he go? He had all but disappeared into thin air in front of her. Bad Buffy! She needed to keep her mind focused on the task at hand and stop thinking about that stupid engagement! She looked around and saw she was at a motel called the Stage Coach Lodge. It wasn’t a very large motel, but it was definitely nicer than the Sunnydale Motor Inn on the other side of town. He must be visiting someone here, but who? She decided to wait for him to emerge, so she could confront him once she figured out his game.


 

Spike snuck through the shadows of the Stage Coach Lodge and knocked softly as he located Ethan’s room. When Ethan opened the door, Spike slipped through, closing it quickly behind him.

Ethan stood at the door for a minute murmuring some words beneath his breath, before turning to look at Spike. “There, that should prevent anyone from hearing us.”

Spike glanced around the room, noting the magical odds and ends scattered throughout the room. He sauntered over to the bed and flopped down, putting his hands behind his head and not caring that several baubles rolled off to the floor. “Looks like you’ve been busy.”

“Do you mind?” Ethan shooed Spike off the bed, rescuing the various trinkets from the floor and moving them to a hopefully safe place on the bed stand. “I only have a limited supply of these items, and I’d appreciate it if you would be more careful.”

Spike located a chair that was empty, and twirled it around before plopping down and propping his arms on the chair back. “Listen, you called it right. I caught up with the Slayer last night and she covered for me with the commandos, gave me time to get away.” Spike looked down, wondering at the warmth he was feeling recalling the scene.

Ethan sat carefully on the edge of the bed, his legs crossed. “There, see? I told you she was trustworthy.” Ethan was secretly relieved that Buffy had protected Spike. He was finding the relationship between the vampire and Slayer very curious. “Now tell me, what have you learned from the little band of do-gooders?”

“I was able to get the Slayer alone last night and got her thinking about whether these commandos are on the side of good or evil. We actually killed a Polgara demon that the wanker in charge apparently wanted captured. Slayer wasn’t sure why they needed it captured, only that they wanted the skewers in the arms left intact.” Spike chuckled. “I made sure that didn’t happen.”

“A Polgara?” Ethan mused, considering. “They’re pretty rare, and definitely hard to capture intact. Do you have any idea on the number and types of demons that have been captured so far?”

Spike peered at Ethan and tried to remind himself what his end goal was. “Before we get into that, how are you doing on figuring out how to get this chip outta my head?”

Ethan glanced at the door before looking directly at Spike, unblinking. “That will depend on what we can find out from the Initiative,” Ethan stated firmly.

Spike sighed. Was he being played? Hard to tell. And since he wasn’t sure where his own loyalties were falling right now, he let it go.

“The Slayer’s been in there and saw doctors examining demons that were brought in, but she wasn’t taking notes on the types of demons and hasn’t learned what they’re using ‘em for.” Spike sat up. “And now she might not have the chance to learn anymore.” Spike suddenly wondered if Buffy being shut out of the Initiative would make his deal with Ethan go belly up.

“What do you mean?” Ethan asked, concerned.

“Well, that crazy bitch in charge down there tried to kill her last night. So, I’m guessin’ Buffy’s had her all access pass revoked,” Spike said, reluctantly.

“Crazy bitch?”

“Doc by the name of Maggie Walsh. I guess she’s runnin the show, dictating what demons they should go after,” Spike explained. “Seems like she’s the Slayer’s psychology teach as well.”

Ethan paced up and down the small room, agitated. “The whole point of you working with Buffy and Ripper was because she had an in to get more intel.” Ethan was starting to think it would be better to keep Spike away from the Slayer. “If she’s cut off, it might make sense for you to distance yourself from them.”

Spike felt uneasy. Ethan made a good point, but it rubbed Spike the wrong way. “It’s a little late for that ship. I made a truce with them.”

Ethan barked out a laugh. “So what? You can’t seriously be telling me that your honor is at stake here?”

“There’s certainly a stake headed my way if I back out of my deal with her,” Spike said soberly.

Ethan looked at Spike closely. “One wonders if you might have other reasons for keeping to your truce. Please don’t tell me you’ve developed feelings for the girl.”

Spike jumped up. “Bloody hell! I can’t just disappear! They’d be suspicious. And just because I’m honoring my deal, why jump to having feelings?!”

“You tell me.”

Spike now took over the pacing of the room. “If anything, I can’t stand the girl!  It was a travesty when her little witch friend cast that spell on us!”

Ethan perked up. “What’s this now? A witch friend? And what spell?”

Spike scowled, remembering. “They called it a ‘My Will Be Done’ spell. The witch was feeling down on herself, depressed cause her boy had skipped town, ya know? I guess she said Buffy should just marry me, for some reason I never quite understood. Next thing I know, Slayer and I are spendin’ the rest of the day plannin’ our nuptials and snoggin and, uh, never mind that.” Spike’s face grew a little wistful. “Just never been that happy before.”

“You must tell me more about this witch. Who could accomplish such an advanced spell?” Ethan asked urgently.

“The little redhead, Willow, Buffy’s bestie. Most of her spells are a disaster, but there’s no denying she has power.”

“Impressive.” Could he harness the witch in some way? “But back to the business at hand. If you must still…associate… with them, find out what they are planning. Buffy still has her beau that works there, yes?” Spike nodded. “We need someone on the inside to get information about 314.” Ethan walked to his dresser and pulled out a pouch. “I’ve taken the liberty of whipping up some crystals that act as a sort of beacon and listening device. If you can figure out a way to get one of these inside the base, I could tap into it and see if we can learn more about their activities down there.”

“No promises,” Spike said as he pocketed two of the crystals. “But I’ll see what I can do.”

“You do that,” Ethan agreed. “In the meantime, I’m working on a spell of my own that may help us to shake things up down there.”

“Shake things up? What’s that mean exactly?”

“Let’s just say that it will put a stop to any more experiments happening,” Ethan chuckled. “IF we can get that crystal down there.”

“Hey, are these things safe for me to carry around?” Spike nervously pulled out one of the crystals and looked closer at it.

“It’s fine,” Ethan assured him. “Well, most likely it’s fine. No really, you’ll be fine.” Ethan tried to give Spike a reassuring smile.

Spike looked at him balefully for a moment. “I should get back, before anyone notices I’m gone.” Spike headed for the door. “Be careful that you’re not seen,” he warned.

“Not to worry. I’ve cast a disruption spell over this part of the motel. It prevents anyone from seeing the details of who is in the motel and who is coming and going. They still see the building, but nothing else.”

“That’s just neat,” Spike said, grinning. “And don’t forget,” Spike said seriously. “I want this chip out before I share any more information.”

Ethan closed the door and grimaced. No need to tell him that I could do it right now. If I take that chip out, there’s no reason for him to help me.


 

Buffy was getting impatient with waiting for Spike to return when she suddenly noticed him striding down the street toward her location. What the..? Had she lost focus again? Maybe she was more tired than she thought? Buffy stepped out in front of Spike as he was about to pass where she was hidden and punched him in the nose.

Spike’s head flew back and his hands flew to his face. “Oi! Slayer, what the hell was that for?

“What are you doing here Spike? Why did you sneak out tonight? Did you just come from that motel? Who were you seeing?” Buffy couldn’t get her questions out quick enough.

“Hold on Slayer! Give me a chance to explain!” Spike rubbed his nose, as he deliberated how much to say. He hoped Ethan’s disruption spell was working as he described. Maybe she didn’t even know he had been at the motel?

Buffy readied herself to punch him again. Spike held up his hands in surrender. “Well?” Buffy tapped her foot impatiently.

Spike decided the best defense is a good offense. “Look, you do understand that I’m a vampire, right? Creature of the night, and all? It’s kind of unnatural for me to go beddy-bye at 11:00!”

“And you just waited for all of us to go to sleep before you slipped out? Seems pretty suspicious to me.”

“Look Slayer, I’ve got my own contacts to check in with. And your pretty little self would not be welcome.” Pretty little…argh! Damn Ethan for getting him thinking about that engagement again! Spike pulled out his cigarettes and tapped one out before putting the pack away. “Ya never know where useful information is gonna come from.”

Spike thinks I’m pretty? Bad Buffy, that’s not the important part. “Since when do you have useful information?” Buffy decided Spike wasn’t obviously doing anything evil, so she dropped her fighting stance and stepped back, waiting for his explanation.

“Hey! I came to you straight out after escaping from that hell hole and told you everything I know…eventually.” Spike lit up his cigarette and blew smoke in Buffy’s direction.

Buffy snatched the cigarette out of his mouth and threw it to the ground, before stomping on it. “Uh huh, and who exactly are these contacts?”

“There are a lot of demons…hey, peaceful ones,” Spike exclaimed as Buffy rolled her eyes and pulled out her stake, “that are losing family members and want some help to find them, or at least learn what happened to them.”

Buffy relented and put her stake in her waistband. Spike went on to explain how he met Clem and Clyde and agreed to help find information on their uncle.

“And you just agreed to help them out of the goodness of your heart?” Buffy asked sarcastically.

“Hell no!” Spike responded. “There’s some money to be had, and yours truly needs money now to feed myself, don’t I? Not like I can partake of the Happy Meals buffet anymore.” Spike crossed his arms and glowered at Buffy.

Buffy looked chagrined. “I actually hadn’t thought about how you were getting blood. I guess that’s why you’re always hitting us up for money.”

Spike looked uncomfortable. “Not like I want to ask for payouts. Don’t have a choice.”

Buffy looked thoughtful. “Do you think these peaceful demons would be willing to talk to me? It might be good if I knew who they are so I can make sure not to bother them.”

“I really couldn’t say, Slayer,” Spike said neutrally. “If you want, we can head to Willy’s and see if they’re around.”

“I’d like that,” Buffy said.


 

Spike and Buffy cut through Sunnydale Cemetery as they made their way to Willy’s. Buffy kept a lookout for any vamps or other demons as they went, with her stake at the ready, even though they hadn’t seen any action. They were both uncharacteristically quiet as they strode past the gravestones.

Spike was surprised that Buffy wanted to meet with any demons, peaceful or not. From what he could tell in the time he’d known her, she had a very black and white conception of good and evil. It annoyed him the way the Scoobies referred to Angel AND Angelus, as if Angelus was composed of two completely separate entities depending on whether he had a soul. That was bollocks. Spike lived with Angelus before and after the ensouling and knew what a cruel and sadistic vampire he was. It didn’t matter whether he had a soul or not. Not that Buffy would believe that. The Slayer lived in her imaginary dream world when it came to her “one true love.” He still cringed as he remembered how jealous he had been when Buffy mentioned Angel during Red’s spell.

Buffy was thinking about how much Spike’s life, well unlife, had changed since he had lost the Gem of Amara to her. She wasn’t upset that he was no longer an invulnerable killing machine, far from it, but she was beginning to understand how difficult it must be for him to change now that he was being forced to play nice. An unwelcome memory from their “engagement” popped up in her mind. She and Spike were planning the guests to the wedding and it had become clear that he had no family to attend. With Drusilla out of his life and Angel ensouled, Spike was alone. As for friends, he hadn’t needed any as a vampire – he had his family and his minions. Now that he was chipped, all that was gone and he lived a solitary life. She recalled that he had confessed to her how much it meant to him to join her family and share her friends. Had those feelings been part of the spell? Buffy doubted the spell would be so specific. She wondered if that confession was tied to Spike’s actual personality, his desire to be with others, to have a social connection.

“Well, what have we here?”

Buffy and Spike were startled out of their thoughts by the voice that rang out behind them.

“Riley!” Buffy whirled around and saw Riley glaring at them, with a taser blaster in his hands. He seemed agitated, and was sweating in the cool night air. She worried whether he was all right. Spike quickly sidled behind her.

“Harboring HSTs now? You do know that’s Hostile 17 behind you?” Riley inched forward, looking for a line of sight to Spike.

“Riley, calm down. I can explain,” Buffy said, attempting to placate him.

“Really? That’s NOT Hostile 17? The vampire we’ve been searching for these last two months?”

 “No! Well, yes, but ... Look, this is Spike. O-or Hostile 17 to you. He’s, um,… it’s a really long story. But he’s not bad anymore…” Buffy felt muddled as she tried to explain. She wasn’t sure why Riley was being so aggressive with her, and it concerned her.

“Hey! What am I? A bleedin’ broken record?  I’m bad!” Spike burst out from behind Buffy. He hated being seen as a helpless thing! He was the Slayer of Slayers! Part of the Scourge of Europe! “Just …can’t bite anymore, thanks to you wankers,” he trailed off.

“Spike, you’re not helping!” Buffy kept her eyes on Riley, but held out her left hand in Spike’s direction in a shushing manner. “Riley, come on. You know that he can’t hurt anyone because of that chip you put in his head. Just give him a chance,” she implored.

Spike was oddly touched by her attempt to plead his case. He couldn’t remember the last time anyone truly believed in him. And I’m planning to repay her how? By double crossing them all? He couldn’t think about that now.

“Only Professor Walsh has the authority to…” Riley started.

“Maggie tried to kill me!” Buffy broke into Riley’s rule of military obedience.

Riley looked at her, bug-eyed. “What are you talking about? There has to be a mistake!” Riley exclaimed, insulted.

“No mistake, Riley. She set me up to be trapped with a bunch of the Initiative’s pet demons,” Buffy accused. She was hurt that he didn’t seem to accept what she was saying.

“Pet demons? What are you … never mind! I don’t believe you! She’s a brilliant woman who just wants to help people!” Riley looked at Buffy fixedly. “You’re just trying to distract me from the fact that you’ve known where Hostile 17 is all along! You think you can just decide he can go free?” Riley swung the rifle around dangerously, with a wild look in his eyes.

“You don’t understand,” began Buffy.

Riley cut her off sharply. “Oh, I think I understand perfectly,” he said roughly. “It’s just as Maggie warned me about. You’re trying to damage our mission, and take down the Initiative!” Riley was shaking with anger.

Buffy started to tear up and tried to steal herself not to cry. “Riley, are you okay? You’re shaking…”

“Shut up! You don’t get to pretend you actually care about me anymore!” he cried.

“Listen to me Riley, I do care about you. I’m worried about what that group is doing to you. Y-you’re different, can’t you see that?” Riley scowled at her. She thought if she could just get him to put down the blaster and talk to her, she could make him understand that Spike wasn’t the problem…Maggie was. “And Spike, he’s trying to find a new way to live, he’s working with us now,” she explained.

Riley reached out suddenly and grabbed Buffy’s right arm, pulling her away from Spike. He leveled the taser directly at Spike and fired. At the same time Buffy regained her balance, swiftly knocking Riley’s hand off her arm and making his aim go wide. “Let go of me!” Buffy shouted.

Spike wasted no time. Before he could think about what he was doing, he swiftly bent down, grabbed a chunk of gravestone that had fallen onto the ground, and lobbed it at Riley’s head, knocking him out cold. Spike recoiled in pain as the chip fired, and he fell to his knees, panting.

“What the hell, Spike? What did you do that for,” Buffy cried, dropping her stake as she knelt to check on Riley. She relaxed and sat back when she saw he was unconscious but not seriously hurt.

Spike stumbled to his feet as the pain from the chip started to subside. “Aw come on, Slayer, he’s a nutter! We needed to take him out before he took the both of us out!” Spike was unapologetic. He strode over to the prone body and picked up the taser, handing it to Buffy while surreptitiously slipping the bug into Riley’s pocket. Buffy took the taser and also retrieved her stake, tucking the stake into her waistband.

“What have you done to my brother,” came a deep voice from behind them.

Buffy and Spike both stood and spun around quickly. Emerging from the trees in front of them stood a grotesque being. Standing almost 7 feet tall, they both gaped at the creature, partially clothed in commando fatigues, with a body that was stitched together. Had it been a man at one time, Buffy thought to herself. She shuddered. Whatever it had been, it was now a twisted combination of man, demon, and machine.

“B-brother?” Buffy risked a glance at Spike, who looked dumbfounded at the scene in front of him.

“Riley Finn. My brother,” the creature explained.

“Who the hell are you?” Spike demanded.

“Spike,” Buffy whispered angrily. “Don’t upset the Frankenstein monster!”

“I’m a kinetically redundant biomechanical demonoid, designed by Maggie Walsh, and part of the 314 Project” the creature explained calmly. Buffy and Spike both started as they heard the reference to 314. “She called me Adam, and I called her Mother.”

“And how does that make Riley your brother?” demanded Buffy. She didn’t know what to think, but Riley couldn’t be a brother to this atrocity.

“Maggie Walsh also designed Riley Finn. She taught him how to think and feel, gave him chemicals to make him stronger, and a behavior chip to fulfill her plan.”

Buffy was shocked. “No, that can’t be true!” Her voice was strangled.

“She said that we were her favorite children, her art, and that makes us brothers.” Adam began moving forward toward Riley’s body.

“Stay back,” she warned, raising the taser and pointing it at Adam.

“I’m sure you’ve noticed he hasn’t been acting himself lately?  He’s off his chemical feeding schedule, and it’s affecting his behaviors,” Adam explained. “I need to get him back to the lab to get him healthy again.”

“No, you can’t have him,” Buffy said desperately. She couldn’t let him be taken, couldn’t fail another friend. “You can go tell Maggie that this is one child that’s never coming home to her!” Buffy noticed that Spike was beginning to edge further away. To get behind Adam, or to escape himself? She didn’t know.

“Maggie is dead,” Adam said impassively, while Buffy gasped. “She was no longer necessary to achieve the plan.”

“You killed her?” Buffy looked horrified. Her throat was tight with unshed tears… for Maggie, who didn’t deserve to be killed by her creation, and for Riley, who had clearly been abused by the organization he trusted.

“I needed to learn, about what humans are made of, how they feel. But it didn’t give me the answers I need.”

At that moment, Spike attacked Adam from behind, kicking him hard in the back, unsure if the human parts of the creature would set off his chip. He smiled grimly when he realized that Adam was all demon, at least according to the chip.

As Adam stumbled forward and clear of Spike, Buffy shot the taser at him. Adam moved into the shot, holding his arms out wide and seeming to revel in the surge of electricity. “Thank you,” he said with a smile.

“Slayer, I think you just gave him an energy boost!” Spike yelled.

Adam knocked the taser out of Buffy’s hands, and she cried out at the sheer strength of him. She turned and kicked out at him, following up with a hard right hook to his face. It felt like punching 6 inches of solid reinforced steel covered in diamond and Adam hardly reacted to the punch. Spike leapt on him from behind and tried to get a grip on his head. Adam merely pitched Spike into the ground, while grabbing Buffy by the throat, and launching her into a nearby tree.

Spike jumped up and moved back from the monstrosity.

“I don’t understand why you fight with her,” Adam turned and looked at Spike. “What is she to you?”

“She’s a damn site prettier than you, that’s for sure,” Spike retorted. I have to stop calling her pretty! Spike was mad at himself.

Adam picked up the taser and started to turn toward Spike. “Hey,” Buffy yelled. “I’m over here.” Adam spun back toward her voice and fired, but Buffy had moved quickly toward Spike, pulling him behind a nearby mausoleum. “We need to get out of here.”

“Don’t disagree with you, Slayer. Think we can lose him if we head toward my crypt.”

“Ok, let’s go.”

Buffy and Spike put on a burst of speed as they headed toward Restfield. Adam didn’t bother to follow them. Instead, he turned back to Riley’s body, hefted it over his shoulder, and said, “Let’s go home, brother.”


 

Buffy entered Spike’s crypt and looked around curiously, as Spike slammed the door shut. She had heard about his place from Giles, but she now took in the easy chair, the television, and the little fridge and realized that Spike was making himself a home. She found she was glad for him. Spike swept past her, grabbed a beer from the fridge, and downed half of it in one gulp.

“Ya want one?” he offered.

“A world of no,” Buffy said quickly. Spike quirked his eyebrows up at her, and she added “There was this situation on campus a couple months back, with magic beer. It wasn’t pretty.” Spike snorted.

Buffy wandered around the crypt. “So, where do you sleep?”

Spike hopped up on the sarcophagus. “You’re looking at it.”

“Really? Is that comfortable?” Buffy asked.

“Look, Slayer, we don’t have to make small talk. We’re just waiting for a bit to make sure the big bad monster has gone back to his hidey hole, so we can scarper to the boy’s place.” Spike finished his beer, picked up the remote control, and clicked the TV on. He told himself he didn’t care whether Buffy liked his place or not.

“Fair enough,” she responded. She glanced at the screen and saw it was one of those Spanish telenovelas. “Spike,” she said, turning back to him, “are you safe here?” Spike looked surprised. “I mean from the commandos.”

“Safe as most places, I figure. I’ve got some exit strategies that should work in most situations. You don’t know all my secrets.” He grinned at her.

She found herself grinning back at him, and turned abruptly away to sit in the chair. As she stared at the screen, she softly added, “You can come to me if you need help, you know, or j-just a friend.”

Spike stared at her, before simply saying, “Ta.”

After about a half an hour, where all was quite outside, Buffy suggested they head back to Xander’s and brief the others on what they learned. As they headed out of the crypt, Spike looked at her over his shoulder and said “Bet I can beat you there, Slayer!” and took off using his enhanced speed. Buffy chuckled, and quickly followed.


 

As they arrived back at Xander’s in the wee hours of the morning, Buffy noticed lights on in the basement and motioned for Spike to be quiet. She picked up a BBQ fork from the hibachi that was sitting outside the door and raised it like a sword as she moved to open the door. Just then, Xander pulled the door open from the inside, holding a baseball bat. When he saw Buffy, he lowered the bat, exclaiming, ”Where have the two of you been? We were worried sick!”

“Sorry for the scare, but we have news about the Initiative and the 314 Project.” Buffy was all business, as she handed off the BBQ fork to Xander as she entered.

Everyone was awake. Buffy felt guilty as she deduced she hadn’t been as stealthy as she thought when she left. She sighed and moved to join Anya and Willow on the couch. Spike sidled over to the other side of the room and waited to see what the fallout from their excursion would be.

Giles was standing near the door, and rubbing his glasses. “So the two of you decided to investigate in the middle of the night?” Giles looked at Spike suspiciously, as if he knew that Spike had left without warning and Buffy had followed him.

Buffy looked over to Spike. They hadn’t come up with a cover story, but she didn’t want to rat out Spike to the whole group. Instead she said, “Spike had some demon contacts with information, and I went to back him up.” There, that was sort of true. She looked at Spike again, who was staring at the floor, but she thought she saw a little smile on his face.

She turned to Willow and Anya. “I don’t suppose there’s any food is there? I’m starving.”

Willow jumped up and grabbed the BBQ fork from Xander. “I saw some hot dogs that we can grill up over the hot plate. Coming right up!” Willow opened the fridge, plucked out two hot dogs, speared them on the BBQ fork, and headed for the hot plate.

Giles cleared his throat. “If I may interrupt your foraging for a moment, you said there was news of the Initiative? Did you learn what the 314 Project is?”

As Buffy relayed all that she and Spike had learned that night from Riley and Adam, Willow finished up the hot dogs and brought them to Buffy, then turned to the fridge again to get out blood and heat it in the microwave. She brought the mug to Spike without comment, who took it with a surprised, but pleased, look on his face. “Ta, Red.”

Buffy swallowed the last of her hot dog and said, ”Now Adam has Riley back at the lab and who knows what he meant when he said Riley was part of the project and had been programmed by Maggie.”

“And Maggie Walsh is dead?” asked Giles.

“According to the freaky monster,” Buffy confirmed.

Giles looked rather satisfied before turning sheepish. He looked over at Spike. “So you believe the taser didn’t hurt Adam, but simply energized him?”

Spike shrugged. “Certainly seemed that way to me. He definitely was not slowed by it, at all.”

Buffy stood and crossed to Giles. “We need to get Riley out of there, Giles. We don’t know what’s happening to him. He looked really bad tonight. I’m not sure how long he can hang on.”

Giles put his hands on her shoulders. “I understand you are upset Buffy. He’s your boyfriend and you want him to be safe. But we can’t just go rushing in there without a plan.”

“Honestly, Giles, I’m not sure if he is my boyfriend after all this, but he still deserves to be rescued,” Buffy said quietly.

“I understand Buffy. We’ll get him out. For now, I think we should get a few more hours sleep, and then work on a plan.”


 

Several hours later, Spike slowly became aware of talking nearby.

“Wow, Lake Michigan sure is big!”

“That’s why it’s one of the Great Lakes, Shaggy.”

“I was gonna say groovy lake, but great works too!”

“It sure was nice of your Uncle Carl to invite us to Wisconsin, Freddie.”

“But is this the right place? The town looks awfully deserted!”

“Dear Lord, will someone turn that drivel off?” Giles groaned.

“But Giles,” Willow protested, “this is classic Scooby Doo!”

“Be that as it may, we’ve all gotten far less sleep than we need, and I haven’t had any tea yet,” Giles grumbled, extracting himself from Xander’s bean bag chair.

Spike burrowed farther down into his sleeping bag and tried to block them all out.

“Soup’s on,” Xander announced loudly. “Or at least doughnuts,” he shrugged. “I’m no cook.”

“Ooh, doughy goodness! Bring them over here Xander!” Buffy directed Xander to the bed where the three girls were avidly watching cartoons. “Did you get some of those cream filled ones?”

“Save me a jelly,” Giles requested as he made his way to the hot plate and began making tea.

“Bloody hell, people,” Spike exploded, “some of us are still sleeping!”

“Hey, Captain Peroxide, be civil or I won’t give you the spicy ghost pepper doughnut they had!” Xander warned.

Spike’s head popped out of the bag and he sat up. “What’s that now?”

“Ah ha! I knew that would get the evil dead out of bed!” Xander carefully extracted one of the donuts from the box, using a napkin so his hands didn’t touch it, and held it out for Spike.

Spike sighed and gave up on any more sleep. He instead walked over to Xander and snatched the donut, before walking to the fridge to get some blood.

“You’re welcome!” Xander called after him, annoyed.

Giles took a long sip of his tea, and then made his way over to the doughnut box.  “I thought I asked you to save me a jelly,” he said, as he searched in vain for one.

“Oops,” Anya finished chewing and swallowed. “Sorry?”

Giles picked up the remote control, but before he could switch it off, a news bulletin broke into the cartoons. They all watched as the announcer described a spate of deaths that had occurred over night, leaving behind a line of mutilated corpses with missing body parts.

“Could this be Adam?” Giles asked soberly.

Buffy stood up suddenly. “This is my fault. It must be Adam gathering parts for his project.”

“Buffy, it’s not your fault. How could you know?” Willow said.

“She’s right, you mustn’t blame yourself,” Giles added.

Buffy eyes grew steely. “We need a plan, and we need it now. We don’t know if Adam’s using those parts on Riley, or other demons, or what. I want a way into that place where we won’t set off all the alarms, and any of the notes that Maggie had on her pet. Willow? You think you can hack a secret government organization?”

Willow looked worried, but then put her resolve face on. “I’ll figure it out Buffy, count on it.”

“Good, cause we’re gonna need to know all of Adam’s vulnerabilities if we’re gonna take him down. And we need to figure out where they are keeping Riley, so we can keep him out of harm’s way” Buffy continued. “If only we had some way to track him.”

Spike coughed suddenly. “Uh, Slayer?” he said cautiously.

“What is it Spike?”

“I may be able to help with the tracking.”


Chapter End Notes:

Written for the July 2021 Elysian Fields Mystery Fic-a-Thon. And in case anyone is wondering, there really IS such a thing as a spicy ghost pepper donut…it was introduced last October at Dunkin’ Donuts. The press release noted “the Spicy Ghost Pepper Donut is described as a "deliciously daring donut." It's baked with a classic yeast dough and topped with strawberry icing that's mixed with a blend of cayenne and ghost pepper, one of the hottest chili peppers in the world.” I like to think this would be a doughnut that would appeal to Spike. wink

Prompt: YOUR FIC MUST FEATURE THE USE OF A BBQ FORK

Fulfilled: She turned to Willow and Anya. “I don’t suppose there’s any food is there? I’m starving.”

Willow jumped up and grabbed the BBQ fork from Xander. “I saw some hot dogs that we can grill up over the hot plate. Coming right up!” Willow opened the fridge, plucked out two hot dogs, speared them on the BBQ fork, and headed for the hot plate.





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