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Forward Without Seeing

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Time Stamp: Mid-Episode

The Bronze was safe Riley though. No Willow and Cordelia fighting. He felt like a bit of a coward for running away, but Cordelia could hold her own and he didn’t want to piss off Buffy’s best friend. Not when he knew Willow would report whatever he said back to Buffy. No, this was safe and away from the explosions and shrapnel. He sipped from the beer he had grabbed from the bar and looked toward the stage as he walked over to where the tables were, “Oi. Watch it.” A voice told him as he collided into a solid mass, “Oh - it’s you.” The voice continued.

“Hey sorry man I didn’t.” He paused and finally got a look at the person he had run into, “Hostile Seventeen.”

Calling Spike that was a low blow but Riley couldn’t help himself. He reached the table he had been eyeing up and sat down. Spike stared at him for a moment, “Where’s the girlfriend?” He asked rocking back on the balls of his feet, hands in his pockets.

“Are you trying to egg me on? Because it won’t work. Cordelia is off doing… I don’t actually know what. But she can handle herself.” As he spoke Spike stopped rocking.

A second later he watched in horror as Spike sat down across from him. Riley felt his teeth clench. There were few people he hated more. Sure Spike’s attempt to come between Riley and Buffy had worked out in Riley’s favor, but the vampire was like a tick - once he was on you he was impossible to shake, “You should be in the honeymoon stage with your sweetheart and yet here you are - alone drinking beer.” Spike reached into the bowl of nuts that was on the table and ate some, “Are you sure you’re not here hiding out in fear? Don’t want to face your original honey?”

“If it’s a stake to the heart you’re looking for I can provide that. I’ll even gift wrap your ashes and give them to Buffy.”

At that Spike held up his hands in what was clearly mock supplication, “Not here to fight, just here to eat enjoy myself.”

“And are you?” Riley asked, “Enjoying yourself?”

When he finished speaking Riley knew he had said the wrong thing. A smirk so wide split Spike’s face, “It’s not too bad. Good music, good food -” He paused to look directly at Riley, “Good entertainment. Can’t complain.” He seemed to consider something for a moment, “How is the ex?”

“So this is about Buffy then.” Spike had tipped his hand too easily, “What makes you think I’ll tell you anything about her?” Riley inquired.

Perhaps realizing his blunder Spike attempted a different tactic, “I don’t know Soldier Boy, if I beat you in pool why don’t you tell me? Give you a chance to work off all that pent up aggression.”

Spike leered at him eyes shining wide and Riley hated it. Riley knew he should say no. But Spike was right, he was pissed off and the idea of showing Spike up at a game of pool was something that he couldn’t turn down, “You think because you have so many years on me you’ll win - but if I can’t stake you at least I can show you how to actually play.”

“I thought you might say that.” Spike said smirk still firmly in place, and god Riley couldn’t wait to wipe it off his face.

A few beers later and Riley knew he had made a mistake, Spike was kicking his ass. Riley had lost the first game and was in the process of racking up the balls for a second go round. He was also pretty sure he was about one beer too far in. Spike had drunk a few beers as well but being a vampire left him less buzzed than Riley. It was disgusting how unaffected Spike was by it all, “A deal is a deal so I’ll tell you this - Buffy is doing all right. Pissed off at me, but overall she’s fine. I don’t think she really loved me anyway. Not like I thought I loved her.” He took a sip of beer, “But you need to leave her alone. She’s not a prize to be won. Whatever game you thought we were playing - it’s over.”

“I love her.” Spike told him not afraid to be honest in front of Riley - it wasn’t like he was going to tattle, and Spike knew that, “I know you don’t think that I can but I do. You need to accept that.”

“You think you love her.” Riley said the conversation slowly sobering him up as he took aim to knock the ball into the pocket in front of him, “But you can’t. You will never be able to - not the way she needs you to. When you realize that it’s going to change you life.” He knocked the ball into the pocket, a clean shot.

“I loved Dru.” Spike told him, “People seem to ignore that little fact, and it’s bloody inconsiderate if you ask me.”

“Yes, because I’m sure what you had with this Drusilla was anyway at all comparable to what loving Buffy will be like. Buffy’s not a vampire, Buffy will never be a vampire. She’s strong and powerful and has to put slaying above everything. Being with Buffy is work, and I just don’t think you can crack it. I couldn’t.” He shrugged.

Spike growled at him but Riley didn’t care, “Listen here mate-”

“No, you listen here,” Riley interrupted, “I’m not going to try to come between you and Buffy anymore and you want to know why? One, you’re not anything resembling a threat. Two, all your plans backfire - Cordelia and I are walking proof. And three, the second you ask her out and she turns you down you’re going to do something monumentally stupid. I don’t know what, but you will. And I will be there to laugh at you in the background while she kicks your ass.”

What Riley didn’t say out loud, and would most likely never say out loud is that he felt like a bit of a hypocrite when it came to dictating Buffy’s love life. Even if was Spike. He didn’t feel like he had any sort of ground to stand on. He had fallen in love with someone else while claiming that Buffy was the only one he had cared about. And then Buffy had been stupidly selfless. He made to walk away from the pool table - he was ready to wash his hands of this whole conversation, but instead collided with what had to be the biggest man he had ever seen, “Bloody hell.” Spike said.

And Riley couldn’t help but agree.