"Buffy? What's wrong?"
"Nothing, Riley. I'm sorry." She willed herself to relax in his arms.
He sat up. "This is about Faith again, isn't it."
Buffy hated keeping secrets from her boyfriend, but their relationship depended on this one. "What makes you think that?"
"You're not letting me touch you. I thought we'd gotten past this."
"I'm sorry." She sat up in his bed, eyes fixed on his basketball poster. "It's just that Faith used my body for all sorts of thrills. It's unsettling."
"All sorts?" he teased, touching her cheek. "I thought I was the only thrill."
"Of course you were!" Buffy said, evading his hand. "I meant you. And, drinking and stuff."
Something about her reaction made him ask again. "You... sure I was the only thrill?"
Buffy growled in exasperation as she stood up. "God, Spike, will you just leave it alone!"
Riley said shakily, "What did you just call me?"
Buffy's stomach began to burn. Her hands trembled. She tried to swallow, but her mouth was too dry. "What?"
"You just called me..." He stood up, then spun her around to face him.
She kept her gaze on the floor.
"Look at me, Buffy," he said, growing increasingly angry.
"Spike," he spat, disgusted. "The other thrill."
"Riley, it -- it wasn't me," she reasoned.
"Somehow I don't think he knew that." He was buttoning his jeans.
"Where are you going?"
He nodded compulsively as he answered, "I'm going to go kill him."
Buffy was outraged. "It wasn't his fault!"
"Wasn't his fault? What, now you're protecting him? Again?"
"No, I'm just... It's not like he's got a conscience, Riley--"
"Yeah, exactly. I thought that was the point!" He threw his hands in the air. "I don't know what to think. You hide him from the Initiative, you tell me you're getting married--"
"That was a spell!"
"Yeah, but why him? What is it with you and him, Buffy?"
"There is no 'me and him'," she said. "I am not the one who did this. Faith is the one who's responsible for this. For all of this." She pointed between them. "If you're gonna kill anyone, kill her. Please."
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but she's human, and Spike's a demon."
"He's a demon with a chip in his head."
"Chip or no chip, he's a demon that should be put down."
"Hey! He gets put down when I say he gets put down."
"So you're the only one who gets to kill him?"
"Well, yeah, I'm the Slayer."
"Know what, Buffy? I'm not buying this." Riley put his shirt on. "I don't think it's just that he's harmless. I think he's got some sick little fixation on you... and you like it."
"How dare you," Buffy said indignantly. "How dare you judge me!"
"Why don't you prove I'm wrong after he's dust."
* * *
"Good ole' Hostile 17," Forrest whispered. "Wide open for a body shot."
"Let's move," Riley said.
"Oh, wait. Civilian." Forrest focused his lens. "That is if your girlfriend counts as a civilian."
"What? Give me that." He swiped the night goggles out of Forrest's hand.
* * *
"What do you want, Slayer?"
"I want you to get out of town."
"I told you I'm not leaving--"
"The Initiative. Is after you... specifically."
"What, you didn't go and tell your big burlap sack of a boyfriend, did you?"
She didn't answer.
"I was joking, love."
"Uh. It sort of... slipped out."
Spike stared at her, mouth agape. "What the hell is wrong with you? I was keeping it a secret just fine! What on earth could you have said--"
"I called him Spike."
He paused to register the information, then was consumed by uproarious laughter. "Oh, that's rich! I love it."
Buffy's eyes widened. "Not during sex or anything -- Ew!"
"Oh. That's too bad." He wiped a tear from his cheek. "When, then?"
She smirked. "When I was telling him to shut up."
"Anyway, he's seriously trying to kill you now, so you have to get out of here--"
"And you don't want me to die?"
"Well, no, not unless it's by my hand."
Spike said, awestruck, "That's exactly the way I feel about you."
"Touching as this moment is, Spike, my boyfriend is not so much."
"Right then. Where do you propose I go, Oh Great Taskmaster?"
At that moment, an arrow flew into Spike's chest.
"Spike!" Buffy jumped on him, toppling them both to the ground and hiding them in the tall grass.
* * *
"Uh-huh," Forrest said speculatively. "Looks like she doesn't just slay vampires."
Riley lunged and grabbed Forrest by the collar. "If you ever say anything like that again -- think anything like that again--"
"Sorry, man. I'm just sayin'--"
"You're not saying anything. Your orders are to seek and destroy. That's all."
"Orders? You pullin' rank on me on unofficial business now?"
Graham got between them. "He's right, man, it's pretty obvious this is personal. This HST isn't Initiative priority anymore, and if the Slayer's protecting him -- we can't fight her."
"I'm not asking you to fight her--"
At once, their beepers went off. "Damn," Riley said.
"We gotta take this, Finn," Graham said.
Forrest added, "Your jealous rampage will have to wait."
* * *
"Bloody... hell!" Spike plucked the arrow out and counted the inches from his heart. Three.
From her position astraddle Spike, Buffy scanned the woods.
He couldn't help but remember the last time he'd seen her like that. Perfect little breasts jiggling as she rode him to a climax...
The pain in his chest miraculously disappeared.
"They're up there, but I can't tell how far," she whispered. "Can you tell?"
"Yeah," he said, cocking his head and placing his hands on her hips. "Don't move."
After a minute, she said, "Well?"
"Well, you can move a little," he chuckled, and tightened his hold.
"Oh! Spike!" She rolled off of him, disgusted. "You're such a pig!"
"I'm sorry love, I couldn't resist."
"This is a life or death situation! Do you have to be so horny all the time?"
"Well, yeah. It's the only fun I get to have anymore."
"Well, stop having it with me."
Spike picked up the faint yet unmistakable scent of Buffy's arousal. Unfortunately, this wasn't the time or place to pursue it. "If you insist."
"Will you make yourself useful and tell me where they are?"
He peered into the shadows, listening. "I think they're gone, love."
"That's weird. Why would they leave?"
"Maybe they thought they got me."
"Whatever, let's get out of here." Buffy grabbed his hand and pulled him up.
"Where are we going?"
Walking ahead of him, she threw over her shoulder, "L.A."
Spike stopped in his tracks. "What?"