Sequel to Voices in the Dark; part of The Voicesverse
Summary: This has gotten really complicated... Okay. Riley has Spike and is taking him to the old Initiative facility.
Spoilers: Season 7 AU, takes place after my fic, Voices in the Dark
Distribution: Just talk to me, I'm easy.
Disclaimers: All Joss, all ME, all the time...
Feedback: You betta, you betta, you bet! Would love to hear from you! email@example.com
To the Usual Suspects: Chris, aren't you sick of this yet? God, I would be! Kelly, how many different kinds of Riley's are there? Thanks for helping me with that one. Colleen, thank you for always being willing to beta anytime, anywhere. You know I can't put it out there until you see it. And uh, Chen? Gee, read the fic already!!!!
Spike suddenly found himself pinned against the door of the SUV, the left side of his face pasted against the dark, tinted window. He chuckled ruefully. One thing about Whitebread hadn't changed. Still wasn't one for a fair fight.
"If I didn't need you, you'd be on your way back to headquarters in the ashtray, Spike. But I've got some company coming from Washington and they want a little demonstration. Your chip is the one they want to see. Since they're the funding folks, I'm going to comply. But don't think it means you're my long lost pal. You're my prisoner. And there's a really quick and easy way of getting that chip out of your head."
"Gained a bit of weight there, Soldier Boy," Spike commented. His tone was in marked contrast to his submissive position. Flexing the muscles in his lower back and buttocks, he pushed himself steadily against Riley and felt him strain to hold him against the truck. Spike's smile got wider. There was a quiver in the man's muscles, but he certainly wasn't hurting him. The vampire was getting back a bit of his own as he slowly straightened, overcoming Riley's muscle and weight.
He felt Riley put all of his bulk and strength against Spike to push him back down. Spike continued to resist, just to make his point. The vampire subtly moved his body in a twist that broke Riley's grip, moving to face him. He dropped the resistance just enough that the man stumbled and fell against him, bringing them almost nose to nose. Spike laughed derisively under his breath, curling his lip.
"Not lying on my back for anyone, Finn, especially you. Not anymore." Spike waited for Riley to get the picture. "Now get off so I can get in the bloody truck. People will think we're lovers."
The man stepped back and reached for the door handle on the back seat.
"Oh, I don't think so," Spike drawled. "If I'm gonna be your lab monkey, the least you can do is make it worth my while." He reached over and opened the passenger side door. "I could even drive. Like to see how this log truck handles."
Lights winked on from out of the blackness as four pairs of white lights shone on the black SUV. Spike cut his eyes at Riley with an indulgent smile. "Back up? For me?" He tilted his head to one side, amused, and pushed the back door of the vehicle firmly closed.
Riley laughed loudly and bowed slightly, indicating the front seat.
Spike got in the Chevrolet and calmly fastened his seat belt, making a show of it as Riley walked around, speaking into a cell phone, and got in. "Sure you don't want me to drive?" the vampire asked with a raised eyebrow. "Don't fancy riding while you're havin' a conversation. Seen the fatality statistics on those bloody things." He indicated the cell phone with a nonchalant wave of his hand.
Riley grinned dangerously. The big Chevy pulled out, followed by four others. Good. No one would be waiting at the house for Buffy. At least not that he could see. It looked like he had all of their attention at the moment.
He cast about for another sarcastic barb to imbed in the man beside him.
"By the by, see you been skimpin' on the workouts, Finn. Movin' up the ranks can do that. You *are* moving up the ranks, right?"
"What do you mean, he walked out the door and got in the truck with Riley? Is he nuts?" Buffy spun around and looked accusingly at Dawn. "And you let him?"
Dawn stuck her chin out. "Oh, yeah. Like anybody can do anything with Spike except you anyway! Besides, he came down the stairs and he was wearing the coat, Buffy! He was *Spike*."
The slayer was not as impressed at this turn of events as Dawn seemed to be. "I do *not* believe this! I leave for an hour and..."
"Besides Riley was...weird. Scary. He made me all... uncomfortable."
Buffy looked at Dawn in exasperation. "Well, duh. Riley's making vampire soldiers for the government. Scary doesn't even cover it."
"Oh, and you're just now telling me? I didn't expect the stupid git to knock on the door!"
"'Stupid git?' Stop channeling Spike! Who I am so killing if the Initiative doesn't do it first," she fumed.
"Well, he *is* stupid. Riley, I mean."
"Dawn, Riley is brilliant. He was working on his master's when I knew him. He was a valued officer in the Initiative. Stupid he's not. Spike on the other hand..." Buffy's tone was dangerous. She turned to a wide-eyed Jonathan. "Can you dechip Spike without him actually being here?"
"I don't think..." Jonathan's voice trailed off in confusion.
"Spike said you were supposed to go on with your plans," Dawn interjected. "I was supposed to wait here for you and tell you that."
"Tell me to go ahead? Like I was gonna listen to him anyway!" Buffy was ranting. "Way past respecting his wishes here. That chip is coming out even if I have to dig in there and pull it out myself!"
The slayer blew out a furious breath. "Stupid vampire! I cannot believe that my in-significant other has just ridden away in the Army-mobile with my ex who has every reason to want him in a vacuum cleaner bag."
Xander snorted in disgust, as Daniel looked down at his feet.
"And you!" Buffy rounded on the Scooby. Xander's eyes widened as he took a step back. "If you'd been the least bit supportive even once. I wish...!"
There was a flash as a beautiful woman winked into their midst. "Finally! I just knew if I listened long enough, you'd manage to mess your nest! Sometime, somehow, there had to be some vengeance coming your way, Xander Harris!"
Buffy turned toward the familiar voice in shock. She'd never get used to the whole teleportation thing. "Down, girl." Buffy grinned at the blonder than blond vengeance demon. "Bigger fish to fry. Got a minute?"
Mind racing, Spike cast back to what Daniel had told Buffy, while referring to Spike very carefully in the third person. Spike smirked. Daniel had been a bit shocked at his run in with the Big Bad.
"... The records are gone," he'd said. "There was a fire, I think. His chip - it was a prototype - and the only one that really worked."
And "...All of Professor Walsh's schematics disappeared. So they went into a redesign. But the new chips kill. At least they do when they put 'em in a vampire that's already... fed. The chip fires, but it's too subtle or not subtle enough, so it either doesn't work or it kills them."
So, the money men were comin' to Sunnydale, he thought idly as he lounged against the seat, face not betraying the wheels that were spinning inside his head. How convenient for Riley that Spike had come back from Africa. And convenient for him that Riley hadn't been back until recently. Else Riley might have gotten his hands on his chip the old-fashioned way. By dusting him.
Strength wasn't going to do him a damn bit of good here. And since Captain Cardboard seemed to have gone over to the dark side, it might be that needling him the way he'd always needled Angelus might be a plan.
Seemed to be working so far though. And Spike was not lying down for the slayer's big beefy ex, who wasn't even good enough to breathe her air. Also, Spike certainly didn't intend for Drusilla to spend the rest of her unlife as a brood mare. What he *did* intend was a bit up in the air right now, but...
He wondered how Riley had ever gotten his hands on his dark princess.
Buffy hung up the phone and sighed. "Well, that was oh, so much fun." She shook her head to clear it. "Not. Buffy lectures. Hence, the un-happy." She frowned.
"What was the point of calling Giles then? Don't you already feel silly enough, what with losing Spike and all?" Anya's hands were on her hips. And she had made quite a show of ignoring her ex-fiance, since she'd realized that the wish wasn't going to happen. Which was secretly a big relief. Still, where were the fish? That were bigger? She opened her mouth to ask, but Buffy interrupted her.
"Never enough of the silly. And, frankly, I thought a little CoW help might be in order. You know, government bureaucracy to government bureaucracy..."
Xander laughed bitterly. "You can't be serious, Buffster. The council may hate you, but they're bound to really hate Spike, a.k.a. William the Bloody."
"True. But I had to talk my way through it, so that I could remember I don't have anyone I can count on but us." She looked around at the motley crew. "Which is giving me a headache."
"Hey! Count on me, how? I don't care if Captains Peroxide and Cardboard go down with their hands around each other's necks. Uh, stakes in each other's..."
"Oh, come on. You know you're rooting for Riley here."
Xander ran his hand through his hair. "Well, I don't know, Buff. He did mess with Dawn... not that I think he would have hurt her or anything. Right now, I'm laying equal odds on the outcome, even with that chip in Spike's head. Cause that is one vampire who hates Riley Finn."
Dawn let out a huge breath. "Spike thought Riley would hurt me. Spike..."
Buffy held up a hand. "Let it go, Dawn. The Xanman isn't joining the Spikey Fan Club anytime soon. If ever. But he is going to help. Do whatever I need him to do." She leveled hard eyes on her friend. "Right?"
The steely glint in her eyes made his decision for him. "Well, it seems like if anybody should get to stake his undead ass, it ought to be me," he said grudgingly. Buffy shot him an eyebrow. "Or you," he muttered. He grinned. "So, yeah, I'm in. Why should Riley have all the fun?"
"Nice rakish scar you got there. Gives you a bit of an air."
Riley laughed dryly. "I had it last time I was here."
Slowly turning, Spike looked at the man, raising his own scarred eyebrow. "I really wasn't in much of a noticin' mood that night. What with bein' busted in on in bed. Havin' my home trashed. And all for no reason anyway." Spike settled back. "Nice line it's got though," he said conversationally. "Makes you look less like a college kid, more like a man. 'More like' being the operative phrase," he needled. "Menacing. Which is sayin' a lot when it comes t' you."
"That's a funny story. Buffy told me a while back that it was the M.O. of an old girlfriend of yours." Riley snuck a look at the vampire to gauge his response. "Fingernails. Killed a slayer with them. Should have paid more attention, I guess." The man sighed for effect. "But Buffy's war stories...well, you know. After a while, they all started sounding alike. Apocalypses. Unstoppable demons. Evil vampires that lose their souls after sex. You get it, right? Hard to know when to keep paying attention."
"So. My Drusilla gave you that?" Spike worked hard at loitering against the seat. "Good for her. And without me even telling her what a spineless wanker you are."
"*Your* Drusilla?" Riley glanced at the vampire. "She hasn't been yours in awhile, chum. And she definitely has her uses," he said spitefully. "Found out all about *those* the night she tried to take me down."
Spike yawned and tried to look unconcerned, but it was hard. Because Finn had just confirmed that he had Drusilla. "Yeah?"
Inwardly, Riley was surprised at the lack of response to his revelation. "You're not sounding very surprised here, Spike. I have Drusilla. Your ex. In fact, she's..."
"Making vampire soldiers for the government." He shrugged. "You boys were headed that way with the Adam bloke."
Riley's head spun in surprise. His eyes narrowed as the lights from the street played over Spike's face, making his cheekbones and the planes of his face even sharper than usual.
"No surprise it brought you to this," Spike continued, sounding even more unconcerned. "Even with that Walsh bitch dead and gone." He smiled. "Met some of your boys today. Ran outside in the daylight and dusted themselves. Not exactly the sharpest monkeys in the zoo, Finn. Those pretty little blouses might stop stakings and beheadings, but they don't do squat against the light of the sun. Might want to have a little briefing with the boys on that."
"For some reason, their Circadean rhythm is way off."
"Well, hell, it's not like Dru's playing with a full deck," the vampire said offhandedly. "Bound to be some kink ups in the makin'." Well, wasn't this an interesting and oh, so civilized conversation?
"That Dru..." Riley chuckled indulgently. "You know, she's really something on a kill. That thing she does with her eyes..."
"Yeah. Been on the receiving end of that one. Lets you see the thing you want the most."
"Yep. I would have thought that it would have been Sam," Riley mused. "After all, I fell for her, married her. But that's not what I saw... see... at all. I see Buffy."
"See?" Spike echoed his words, mind racing.
"Well, of course, 'see.' A tender, gentle Buffy? One who loves me, says all the right things? Why not have that as often as you can? Dru's a real sport about fulfilling my little on-going fantasies."
Spike froze in his seat, as the images played across his way-too-fertile mind. The truck came to a stop, and seven men armed with tasers waited immediately outside the SUV. Hard hands yanked the door, pulled the vampire out, and placed reinforced cuffs around his wrists. Spike held himself very still, submitting, as he waited for Riley to walk around the front of the truck.
"They'll take you from here. But it was nice having some one-on-one time, Seventeen. Gonna make all this just that much more...interesting."
The slayer had paced and thought, thought and paced. It was getting her nowhere. "Okay, this is it," she announced to the room at large. "I'm going in." She set her chin and headed toward the front door.
Xander grabbed her arm. "And do what? Yell at him? Slap his wrist? Take away his ice cream?" Xander looked at her resolute face. "Fine. I'm going with you."
"No, Xander. You're going to hold down Fort Summers. Wait for Dawn and Daniel to get back from Clem's.
"And I'm doing this because..."
"Because Jonathan has to work on the spell. He might need... things." She looked over at Jonathan, who was kneeling on the floor in front of the coffee table, gazing fixedly at the read outs on the chip. She sighed. "If you can't take it out, what can you do?"
A little dismayed that she had reopened the subject, Jonathan glanced at Buffy. He shrugged apologetically, as he returned his eyes to the papers on the table. "I really don't..."
"Gah! You can't do *anything*? What happened to all that heavy-duty creativity you had last year?"
Jonathan thought about it. "Um, Warren?"
She threw her hands in the air. "Warren. Of course. Well, there's got to be something you can do."
Jonathan tried to shrink down into the floor.
"There's *got* to be something," she continued. "Interfere with his plans. Slow him down, until..."
Xander pointed a shaky finger at Buffy, then at Jonathan. "Wait. Hold on. Just a ..." He snapped his fingers, trying to focus. An incredulous smile slowly lit up the man's face. "Interfere. With the chip. That's it! One time... wow, that's it! *That* time Spike got shot with the tracer, Willow threw a dampening whatsis around him. A spell. Like a field. Very Star Trek, except all with the magic. Blocked the signal."
The slayer's hopes lifted. Buffy turned to Jonathan, who was digging through the papers, looking for something in particular. "Can you do it?"
Jonathan kept staring at the read outs, shaking his head. "He's not here." Then, he raised his head, excitement gleaming in his dark eyes. "But... if I had... something that's his."
Buffy tapped her foot. "Like...?" She racked her brain trying to think of something that he'd left at her house. And came up with zilch. He'd had the coat on. Dawn said so. She'd have to go to the crypt. Find something...
"Blood, hair, nails, something!" Jonathan was beginning to sound as excited as he looked. It just might work. There was a spell they'd used to hide the lair from electronic surveillance, because those cable porn companies could be mean if someone was hacking into their stuff. Of course, that was just a generalized thing. This was a specific spell around someone who wasn't there. Still, the personal stuff could draw it.
The slayer swung around. Blood? Hair?
"Oh. Oh!" She ran up the stairs and barreled into her bedroom.
Her breath caught as the sight of the tousled bed filled her vision. Her stomach dropped. She put her hand on the dresser and took a deep breath.
Okay, she was beginning to panic. Which was very un-slayerlike and very un-Buffy. She gulped once and smashed the choking feeling back down into the pit of her stomach from where it had risen. Then she compressed it into something even smaller that would fit over in a bitty corner. She didn't have time or room for anything else. And Riley wouldn't just kill Spike, right?
Oh, right. Not her Riley. But the Riley that was making vampires...
Slowly, she walked over to the pillow where he'd slept and looked closely. The darker roots stood out against the patterned bedding. For once, she thanked Dawn for her cosmetic touches. No time wasted at all. Definitely Spike's.
She carefully picked up three hairs and pinched them hard between her fingers. Wouldn't do to lose them.
Unbidden, a sarcastic thought played around the corners of her mind.
Oh, yeah, Xander was just gonna love this!
Anya was waiting for her at the bottom of the stairs. "I can teleport to the crypt. Just tell me what to look for and..." The vengeance demon looked at her curiously, tilting her head to one side. "Where did you go? Did you have an emotional display? Because..."
Buffy smiled grimly and held up her fingers. Anya leaned in and looked carefully, then glanced at Buffy. She beamed, but managed to keep her voice noncommittal. "Convenient."
Walking over to Jonathan, Buffy held out her hand. The shorter man squinted and sighed in relief. "Whew. Good job." He took the hair follicles and put them on the table.
Xander looked down at the table in surprise, then up the stairs and finally met Buffy's eyes. His eyes dropped in the face of her level gaze. "Convenient," he mumbled in embarrassment.
"That's what Anya said. But she meant it."
She couldn't believe it. Finally, she had something important to do. Finally feeling the love of full scale Scoobydom.
Dawn looked at the fledgling vampire out of the corner of her eye - and up. She actually had to look up a little. His eyes were the oddest shade of green. And he was...well, hunky. Definitely kind of hunky. Hunky with soft wavy black hair that... Whoa! No cruising vampires. That way lay insanity. Still, they could talk.
"So Daniel. You're like...a soldier or something?"
Daniel smiled with some irony. "Something. Absent Without Leave kind of soldier. Except that I'm dead. So I guess the 'absent without leave' doesn't count."
"Bet it counts for those other guys," she said, referring to the Initiative-made vampires. Made in the USA, by the USA, for...
"Which means a tour of duty now officially lasts forever. Instead of it just seeming like it does," Daniel commented ruefully.
Dawn laughed appreciatively and tossed her hair. "So how did you end up in the middle of this rescue mission? And I am so killing Clem if he's sitting at his apartment eating popcorn."
"I like Clem."
Dawn sighed. "Everybody likes Clem."
They walked along in silence. She supposed he wasn't going to answer her question. "I'm glad Buffy sent us to do this. Cause I'm kinda worried about him."
"Well, I've gotten to know him pretty well, and something must be wrong or he would have been at the crypt."
"Maybe he just like... tripped. Caught his toe in his knee flaps and ... hit his head," Dawn quipped, trying to break the tension a little.
Daniel grinned a little. Then, he laughed. "Now there's a mental image." He picked up the pace.
She matched her strides to his as they walked on faster in a companionable silence.
"Well. Hello, mate. I take it we're 'off' for poker tonight?"
Clem looked up to see his friend standing on the other side of the barrier. It was like a dream. He had a smirk on his face and that leather coat on his back. The wrinkly-skinned demon had a surge of something like hope. Then, he saw the rest.
Spike had an escort. A uniformed escort.
"Jeez, Spike. I'm incognito here," he said through gritted teeth.
A guard pushed the vampire forward. Spike merely looked back at him and arched his brow. "Do you mind? This was gonna be poker night."
"Spike," Clem hissed the word out warningly. "These are not nice men."
The vampire laughed heartily. "Just doin' their jobs, mate. Can't fault a soldier who's just following orders. Of course, the orders are a bit bent comin' from Colonel Wankinstuff, but..."
"Enough." The lead guard pushed Spike forward.
Spike looked back over his shoulder, dragging his feet. "S'okay, Clem. I'm the one they wanted. You're just gravy. I'll see what I can do. Got an 'in' with the head guy."
"Wow. Really?" Clem thought about what Spike was saying. "Wait. Gravy? People *eat* gravy! And do? Do what? Make it worse?! Spike! Spike!"
Clem watched them push the vampire into a room at the end of the hallway. A place he'd seen vampires go into, but not come out of.
"Oooh, Slayer," he whispered, almost bobbing in fear. "You better do something fast!"
"I've got to do something. Fast. I can't wait around here for a spell that might not even work! I've got to talk to Riley."
Anya rolled her eyes and rocked her head from side to side. "Oh, like that will help."
Buffy looked at the vengeance demon. "What?"
"Well, Riley did hurt you, right? Ran off and left you? Flew off in the big black thing?"
Xander stepped forward. "And that would be *which* time?"
"Shut up, Xander." Anya sighed and rolled her eyes again. "I'm just saying you're probably long overdue for some vengeance. Right?" She slewed her eyes at her ex-fiance and mumbled, "I know *I* am..."
"Anya, I'm all for using the teleporting and messagey stuff, but... well, that other stuff can backfire."
"Well, it's not like we can directly benefit Spike anyway." Anya pointed out grudgingly. "It's got to be Riley-related. And a real wish, too."
"As opposed to... what? A birthday blow-out-the-candles thingy?"
Twin heads of blonde hair swung around as twinnish voices rung out. "Shut up, Xander."
"Look," Buffy continued. "This is still Riley. A decent human being. Or at least, he was. I can go to him, make him understand..."
"Understand what? That you're in love with a vampire? Oh, yeah, that'll put Spike right back in those slayer arms of love," Xander said candidly. "Not instilling me with the old confidence here, Buffster. This is doomed to fail."
"I'm not failing anything. School's out. It's time Riley realized it."
Continued in Part 17