A week. A week of pure heaven. At least, as far as everyone in the Summers household was concerned. Buffy and Spike were spending so much time together that they practically seemed to be attached at the hips, and Dawn and Joyce couldn’t be happier. Spike had become a vampire Martha Stewart, cleaning and cooking, just because he felt like it. When he was in a good mood, Joyce rarely had to do anything, and he was in a good mood all the time, now.
Even patrolling seemed easier than usual, with Spike and Buffy going together every night, hardly any nasties were even daring to come out. This, of course, lead to a lot of goofing off during patrols. And smoochies. And just basic sillyness. Like what they were doing now.
“Where are you, Slayer?”, Spike called, walking around the jungle gym. “Come on. I can smell you, luv. I’m gonna find you soon enough. So why don’t you just save yourself the trouble and- OOF!”
He’d walked under the monkey bars. The same monkey bars that Buffy’d been perched atop. She swung down, knocking him onto the soft padding of the pile of wood chips and sand that surrounded the playground. “Ha! Who got who, Mr. Big Bad?”
He growled playfully, and rolled over, dislodging her, then over again, the other way, reversing their previous positions. “Why, I believe that I’ve got you, luv.”
Buffy, being the very mature person that she was, gave the only response that seemed appropriate. She stuck her tongue out at him.
He chuckled. “Aw, come on. No fight? And I was so looking forward to- AHH!”
Reversed the hold again, and kept it that way by attacking his ribs with her fingers. “I win,” she giggled, tickling mercilessly.
Spike thrashed and laughed, but finally admitted defeat, and was released. The moment both of them regained their footing, he growled loudly, and charged at her. This started a race around the park, that ended at the see-saws. Panting, Buffy held up her hand for a break. Spike obliged, leaning on a tree and grinning at her. She sighed, and laid on a see-saw, keeping it balanced. He stretched a little, then walked over to lay on the see-saw next to her.
“They’re beautiful, you know,” Buffy said quietly after awhile.
“Assuming you’re talking about the stars, yes, they are.” Playfully suggestive grin.
She would’ve swatted him gently, except that she thought it would thrown off her balance. “Of course I’m talking about the stars, blood breath.”
“Hey, you kiss me, remember?”
She ignored him, except to smile, and considered the night sky again. “I never really look anymore. I mean, they’re there every night, and I just don’t look.”
Spike gave a half nod. “Yeah. I used to look at ’em all the time. Dunno when I stopped, really. But you are right. They are beautiful. Do you know constellations?”
She looked over at him. “Some. Like.. Orion’s Belt. But I only know that from Men In Black.”
Spike chuckled. “Do you see it? Those three, right there.”
She looked hard. “The bright ones?”
She cocked her head. “Why do they call it a belt? Looks more like… headlights.”
He chuckled again. “Don’t think of it as lights. Think of it as… connect the dots. Now, follow my finger, and tell me what you see.” He used his finger, very slowly, to trace a pattern in the sky.
Buffy squinted. “A.. guy? With.. something in his hand.”
Spike nodded. “That’s Orion the Hunter. The thing in his hand is either a bow and arrows, or a sword. I can’t remember. He’s hunting Leo, the lion. Right there, see? Here’s the tail, and the legs…”
“Yeah!” Buffy brightened immensely. “What’s that long one? The group there.”
“Draco, the Dragon. And there’s Aquarius, the water bringer. And Aries, the ram. And Taurus, the bull.”
“I thought Taurus was a car.”
“What do you think they named it after, luv?”
Spike considered the stars for a moment. “Ok, see the Big Dipper there? Looks like a big spoon.”
“Ok. Now, think of the end of the handle. Ignore the rest of the Dipper. Focus on the group of five stars right near the end of the handle. What’s that look like to you?”
Buffy considered. “A.. fish? No.. wait. OH! A dolphin!!”
Spike nodded. “Yep. Delphinium, the Dolphin. Thought you’d like that one.”
Buffy got off her see-saw carefully, and walked to a picnic table, hopping up to sit on the table itself. Spike followed, stretching out on the bench part of the table. Buffy looked down at him. “Thought we could see better here. Less trees in the way.”
They lay there in silence for awhile, then Spike moved up onto the table with her. In no time, they were lost in a passionate make-out session. That is, until they were rudely, and painfully, interrupted. Something slammed into Spike’s side hard, sending him rolling off the table with a growl. He leaped to his feet, and Buffy sat up, ready to fight whatever had interrupted them, but she wasn’t prepared for who she did see. “Riley?”
Riley was pointing some kind of gun at Spike, and he was dressed in military garb, camos and everything. “Stay back, Buffy. That creature isn’t what it seems.”
Spike leaned against a tree, wishing for a moment that he hadn’t given up smoking at Joyce’s request, cause he could really use one then. Outwardly, he was the picture of calm. Inwardly, he was shaking.
Buffy gave Riley an annoyed look. “Look, Riley. I know exactly what I’m doing. Can you please leave us alone?”
Riley didn’t take his eyes off of Spike. “You aren’t safe here, Buffy. Just let me handle-”
Buffy stood up, and grabbed the rifle by the barrel, forcing Riley to look at her. “Who do you think you are, Riley Finn? Coming in here, assaulting my boyfriend. I told you a week ago. It’s over between us. I’m sorry if I somehow didn’t communicate that point clearly enough, but you need to go now.”
Riley looked at Spike. “Let her go, Hostile 17.”
Spike shrugged. “Let her go? She’s ten feet from me, mate.” Time to make an admission. “I think it’s you, Commander, who should let her go.”
Buffy looked up, confused. “Commander? Hostile 17? What the hell are you two talking about?”
Riley ignored her again. “You have her in a thrall, vampire. I can tell. She’d never lower herself to being with a HST.”
Buffy looked to Spike this time. “HST?”
Spike and Riley answered at the same time. “Hostile Sub Terrainian.”
Spike took a step forward. “Commander Finn is with the army blokes that shoved this bleedin’ chip in my brain in the first place. He was my… observer. Watched everything they did to me. Every time they hurt me, he was there, directing them. Telling the little lab rats where to cut, and what to pull out.” His voice was becoming strained, but he steadied it as best he could, adding a growl for emphasis. “Hostile 17 was my reference number. He’s one of them.”
Buffy’s eyes got wide, but she didn’t release the rifle. “Is that true, Riley?”
Riley nodded. “Yes, Buffy. Now, if you’ll let go of my taser rifle, I’m going to put this run away back where he belongs.”
“Over my dead body,” Buffy said with something that sounded suspiciously like a growl. “I have something to tell you, too, *Commander* Riley Finn.” She grabbed the barrel of the rifle in both hands, and bent it, curling it around like this was a Bugs Bunny cartoon, and Riley was Elmer Fudd. She didn’t even pause to take in the shocked look on his face, before she continued. “I am the Slayer. Vampire Slayer. And Spike is my boyfriend, and practically a part of my family. If you ever come near him, or touch him, or hurt him in any way…” She held up the rifle pretzel. “This is nothing, compared to what I will do to you.”
Riley stood there, stunned, as Buffy walked over to Spike, took his arm gently, and lead him away without even looking back. When they were out of sight, Buffy asked Spike if he’d known before, and why didn’t he tell her if he did. He responded by saying that it was just a very traumatic memory for him, and he hadn’t wanted to bring it up. This prompted Buffy to ask again what exactly the Initiative had done to him. This time, Spike told her. In detail.
Half an hour later, Riley Finn was taken by ambulance to Sunnydale Memorial Hospital with a broken arm and nose. An early morning jogger had found him leaning against a see-saw, cradling his bleeding nose, and had called 911. That was the last time Riley Finn had anything to do with Buffy Summers, or her boyfriend, Spike.