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Lover's Feud

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“Well, last night was a bust,” Buffy told Spike.

 

“Yeah, guess that informant of mine wasn't as reliable as I'd thought,” Spike shrugged.

 

“Guess not. Thanks for stakin' the place out with me though. I really didn't want to get Riley involved.”

 

“Any time, slayer. I always look forward to a chance to give that sod a sound beating.”

 

“Speaking of, Riley. I'm meeting him here. You should go.”

 

“You're having a date in a cemetery? You really are a master of romance, slayer.”

 

“Shut up, Spike.”

 

Buffy spotted Riley at the gate carrying a quilt under his arm. She turned to shoo Spike away but he was already gone.

 

“So, you ready?” Riley asked when he reached her.

 

“Sure thing.” Buffy smiled. “I've been thinking about this all day.”

 

“Well I thought it was perfect. You're still technically staking out the cemetery, but we also get spend some time together.”

 

“Yep, it's quiet perfect actually. Unless any vampires actually show up. Blood and beheading isn't exactly romantic.”

 

Riley smiled. “Maybe not.” He laid the quilt down on the grass. He sat down and grabbed Buffy's hand to pull her down with him. “It's not exactly unsavory either. Not with you.”

 

***

Willow walked through the door to Giles's house. There were no lights on and no sounds coming from any part of the house.

 

“Hello,” she called. “Giles?”

 

She heard someone coming from the bathroom and tensed. She hadn't seen the light on. Willow used a spell she'd been practicing with Tara to illuminate the room. Spike came in to view and she relaxed.

 

“Spike, it's you. Why all the darkness?”

 

“Creature of the night. I don't need light remember?”

 

“Right. Of course. Where's Giles?”

 

“Don't know. He's been out all day as far as I know.”

 

“That's weird. He wasn't here when I came by yesterday either.”

 

“Maybe he's finally found himself some geeky bird he can shack up and make snooty librarian babies with.”

 

“Maybe,” Willow said unconvinced. “Anyway. I just came to give this book back.” She left the text on the table and left Spike to his darkened safe haven.

 

***

Angelus left his crypt on the way to visit Jayce. He didn't walk far when he heard laughter. Loud, familiar, female laughter. He ducked behind a nearby crypt and peered around the side. Hardly ten feet from him, Buffy and Riley were lying together on an old quilt. They were talking about someone they knew from school and laughing loud enough to wake the dead they were lying on top of.

 

Angelus glared. That look on her face. It was so like the way she'd looked at Angel. So happy, so in love. It was terrible. He growled low unintentionally. He could see Buffy tense and freeze up listening instinctively for movement.

 

“What is it?” He heard Riley ask.

 

“I heard something,” Buffy said looking around.

 

“I didn't hear anything.”

 

“You wouldn't.” She stood up and looked out across the sea of head stones.

 

“Am I missing something?” Riley stood up and looked around with her.

 

She turned to face him. “There's something I should have told you a long time ago. I was worried you'd... judge.”

 

“Buffy. Whatever you have to tell me, I'm here for you. You can trust me.” He laid a reassuring hand on her arm.

 

Angelus held back the growl that threatened.

 

Buffy could feel the menace in the air. “I know. It's just... I dated this guy and he kind of had a dark side. A very dark side. I mean really. It didn't really work out between us and he moved away, but now he's back. Only it's not really him. Sort of. It is but... it's not.”

 

“So, complexity aside... you're afraid of this guy?”

 

Buffy nodded. “Yeah.”

 

“Is he dangerous?”

 

“Very.”

 

Riley looked around. “And you think he'd here.”

 

“I can feel it.”

 

“We should go then.”

 

“Right... yeah.” Buffy strained her eyes trying to see him. She looked across the cemetery and into the forest but she couldn't see anything.

 

Riley quickly gathered up his quilt and they walked together to the edge of the cemetery. He regretted not driving. He didn't even ask if she wanted him to walk home with her. He just kept walking beside her. She was edgy and paranoid the entire walk. She kept looking over her shoulder and watching between the buildings. Riley didn't like the way this guy had her so worked up. Maybe he should get a few of his friends to help track him down. Make him leave Buffy alone. He wouldn't let him hurt her.

 

They reached Buffy's dorm and Buffy left the door open for Riley to follow her inside. He came in and closed the door locking it behind him.

 

“Will you alright here?”

 

She nodded and pushed her hair behind her ear. “Yeah. He- he won't come here.”

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Positive.”

 

“Alright. I'll see you in class then. Call me if you need anything.”

 

He left. The door shut behind him and he was suddenly filled with unease. He could feel cold menacing eyes watching him. He pressed a hand to the knife on his hip hidden under his civilian clothes for reassurance. Riley left the building and walked toward his own dorm. The unease only increased with each step he took but her never heard or saw anyone.

 

Not at first anyway. As he passed under a street light, he could see a shadow on the ground cast by someone behind him. They followed at the same pace as he walked, but they didn't seem to mind if he noticed them anymore. He kept walking toward his frat where the others would be there to give him a hand. It seemed likely that Buffy's ex had followed them from the cemetery and was behind him now. Buffy had said he was dangerous and if Buffy was afraid of him, then Riley felt he reason to be cautious.

 

Just before Riley could make the turn around the building that would put his frat house in sight, he was grabbed from behind and spun around. He tensed ready to attack, but was never harmed. In front of him stood a man with deep eyes and a rather goth fashion sense.

 

“What are doing with Buffy?” He asked in a deep voice.

 

“As you can see, Buffy's not here. She's home safe. I'm sure you know that since you've been following us,” Riley said bitterly. “What do you want?”

 

“I want you to leave Buffy alone. She doesn't belong to you.”

 

“She doesn't belong to anyone. She's her own person. I suggest you leave her alone.”

 

“You gonna get your little army to come after me if I don't?”

 

The surprise on Riley's face was evident, but he quickly covered it with anger.

 

“Yeah, I know all about your little monster hunter club. Have to say, I'm not a fan.”

 

Riley's jaw clenched. “I don't know what you want with Buffy, but she's not interested in you. Back off.”

 

“Bite me, soldier boy,” he smirked as his faced morphed into that of a vampire.

 

Riley was caught off guard for a moment but quickly recovered and punched the vampire dead in the jaw. He went for a kick to the chest hoping to knock him away so he could reach the stake in his pocket, but the vampire dodged him and instead stead knocked him to the ground. He rolled to the side behind the vampire could pounce on top of him. He leapt gracefully to his feet, but the vampire anticipated the motion and grabbed him around the throat lifting him off the ground. Riley dug at the hand with his nails. He didn't seem to notice as the blood dripped from his hand. He just stood there and watched the soldier's face turn blue.

 

***

 

Buffy sat on Giles's bed. She held her head in her hands and she couldn't contain the tears that poured down her face. Her breathing was erratic and her hands were shaking.

 

She'd woken up feeling refreshed. There was feeling of dread in her gut but she intended to wash it away with a warm shower. She opened the door to her dorm and there he was. Riley Finn. He was lying on the ground, eyes wide open. He stared with those cold dead eyes right up at the ceiling. He skin was discolored and cold. Buffy knelt beside him with his hand in hers, tears blurring her vision. The hall filled with curious students. She got to her feet and ran. All the way to Giles's house.

 

She just wanted to be somewhere she'd feel safe. Her mother would be at work but Giles would be home. She needed him to be.

 

The house was empty when she got there. Except of course for Spike who was asleep on the couch. She ignored him and went upstairs. Giles wasn't there either. He must have gone out for something. Buffy sat down on the end of his bed trying to hold it together. She felt like she was breaking apart. She scooted back on the bed and sat against the head board. She pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them. Her head fell onto her knees as she cried. Sobs shook her whole body and felt like she was suffocating.

 

Her heard someone come in the door downstairs. “Giles?” Buffy called.

 

“Buffy?” She heard Willow ask.

 

Willow came up the stairs and found her. “Oh, Buffy. What's wrong? Are you hurt?”

 

Buffy shook her head. “It's Riley... Angelus... He killed him.” She couldn't contain the tears that poured down her face.

 

Willow moved and sat beside her. She wrapped her arms around her friend. She didn't know what to say. She'd never lost someone like that before. She did all that she knew how to comfort Buffy and hoped Giles would be home soon to help. He was like a father too her, he'd know what to do.

 

When Giles finally returned, Buffy was lying calming on her side. Willow sat next to her stroking her hair. The tears had stopped, but she was left with an empty sort of ache inside. She felt hollow and broken.

 

Giles found the girls upstairs. Willow thought he looked strained like he's been working hard on something physically demanding. She let it go knowing Buffy was the more important focus of the moment.

 

“Angelus... He-he got Riley,” Willow said softly.

 

“Dear God,” Giles whipped his glasses before returning them to his face. He went and sat on the bed next to Buffy and put a hand on her shoulder. She sat up and wrapped her arms around his and cried into his shoulder.

 

“Willow, why don't you go make us some tea. Maybe hot chocolate for Buffy.”

 

“Sure,” she said and left the room.

 

She came back with the drinks and Giles coaxed the warm mug into Buffy's hands. She sat and stared at the dark liquid. She sipped on it for a minute and Giles could see her relax a bit.

 

“What happened?” He finally dared to ask.

 

“We... me and Riley. We were in the cemetery. All of a sudden it was like I could feel him. Watching us. So we left. Riley walked me home and then he left to get back to his place. I... I shouldn't have let him go alone. What was I thinking?”

 

“This isn't your fault, Buffy. This is Angelus. If he wanted Riley dead he would have found a way regardless. It's what he does.”

 

“He has to be stopped,” she whispered.

 

“Truly he does,” Giles agreed.

 

***

 

Spike woke that evening to find Willow sitting the chair beside him quietly watching the news. He stretched and looked up at her.

 

“Hey, Red. Something wrong?”

 

“It's Riley. Angelus killed him last night.”

 

“I never liked that soldier boy, but I'm sorry for your loss pet.”

 

Willow nodded staring sadly at the screen.

 

“Right, well.” Spike stood up and crammed his boots on. “Places to be. See you around.”

 

He left Giles's place and walked along the street to meet Angelus. He couldn't imagine what the older vamp had planned, but killing Riley had definitely been on his to do list. At least he was finally taking the next step. Spike hated it when Angelus chose to sit around and let everyone build up a false sense of security. He preferred hot adrenalin to cold fear.

 

He could sense another nearby vampire as he walked through town. No fledgling would set off the radar like that. He smirked at Angelus's attempt at stealth.

 

“Thought we had a date. Or are you just going to watch me all night?” He called into the shadows.

 

Angelus chuckled as he stepped out from the shadow of a nearby awning. “You should have noticed me two blocks ago. You're getting slow.”

 

“Guess my senses are worse for lack of wear.”

 

“I think it's time we change that. Don't you?” Angelus led the way into an old law building.

 

“Heard about the boy. Good on you.”

 

“He deserved something slower, but I had an appointment that couldn't be missed.”

 

A guard let them into a room filled with crates and boxes. It led into a second room with several tables covered in things he couldn't quite make out. Spike grabbed Angelus to stop him.

 

“Where are we?”

 

“Fear not, boyo. I have found your salvation.” Angelus pulled him into the next room. Spike cringed at the sight of all the medical tools.

 

“Never took you for the type to have a medical kink.”

 

Angelus rolled his eyes. An older man came into the room and started putting things in order.

 

“Who might you be then?” Spike asked him

 

“Jayce.”

 

“Jayce is going to fix that problem of yours,” Angelus told him.

 

“You... you found a doctor to fix this chip in my head?”

 

“I did.” Angelus smiled.

 

“Didn't know you cared.”

 

“Up on the table,” Jayce directed. “Let's get you fixed up.”