Where You Lead - 4
~ Eternal Rest Cemetery, Sunday, 5:45 pm~
“So Hostile 17 has been around here for awhile?” Riley asked, following Buffy through one of the smaller cemeteries that Delta squad normally patrolled at night.
“Look, it’s not really the time to chitchat; it’s the time to find Willow.” Buffy snapped back. She knew she was being unfair. She talked a lot when she patrolled with her friends, but this was different. For one thing, it was her friend that was missing; for another thing, she was really upset about Riley. He was supposed to be her normal guy. Normal guys don’t carry walkie-talkies and refer to their friends as “back-up”.
“Why are you so mad at me?” Riley wondered out loud.
“Why am I mad?!” Buffy twirled around and stared at him incredulously.
“Buffy, would you like to take the rest of this cemetery and I can take Mr. Finn to the high school?” Giles politely ordered his slayer. They had been searching for hours with only a short break for lunch and no sleep, and he could tell Buffy’s nerves were frayed.
“Fine, I’ll check the mausoleums and meet you by the library.” Buffy headed off towards the Williams family crypts, knowing that it was a popular site for minions.
Giles let Buffy get far enough away from them, before he decided it was safe to converse. “Mr. Finn, I know this must be an awkward situation for you…”
“Call me Riley.” Riley replied. Awkward was an understatement for what he was feeling. Somehow he had been taken hostage by an old librarian and a freshman girl, who together were pulling off a search and rescue mission with at least as much efficiency as Beta team had used in that bar raid a few days back. He knew he should be trying to get back to base, that the longer he stayed the more he would give away, but something made him feel like it was his duty to stay. He really did want to find Willow, and he was afraid these two were over their head if he were to abandon them.
“Riley.” Giles tested out the informal address, not quite comfortable with the implications. “Buffy and Willow are very important to me. I have watched them grow up into strong, independent women, and I would hate for anything bad to happen to them.”
“I understand that, sir. I would do my best to help locate Willow, if you allowed me to contact my squad.”
“I am worried about Willow, but she’s not the only one that concerns me.”
“I’m afraid I don’t follow.” Riley answered as they cut across the football field behind the deserted high school ruins.
“I can see that you are attracted to Buffy, and she has mentioned you several times in passing. If you can’t be honest with her…” Giles let the threat hang in the air.
“I want to, really I do. I just can’t.” Riley glanced up and the scorched building in front of them.
“Because you have been sworn to secrecy?” Riley nodded. Giles adjusted his glasses in thought. “Do not expect Buffy to trust you until you tell her everything. She has been hurt too many times before by people keeping secrets from her, myself included.”
“What am I supposed to do?” Riley asked, surprised that the old man was being so understanding.
“I can’t tell you that. All I can say is this. One’s sacred duty will not give you something to live, fight, and die for. Love will. That was a lesson I had to learn from Buffy.”
“Hmm.” Riley frowned. This wasn’t at all what he expected.
“Yes, well, enough of that.” Giles shifted uncomfortably as he gazed at the charred remains in front of him. “I have not been in this building since its demise in May, so I am not sure what to expect. Do you have any crosses or stakes on you?”
“By the way you were speaking, Mr. Finn, I assumed you understood the nature of those we would possibly encounter.” Giles sighed.
“That’s what this is for.” Riley pulled his stun gun from his holster.
“How curious. I suppose I should be thankful you did not think to use that earlier.” Giles cursed his carelessness at not disarming the young man.
“It’s not supposed to be used on humans.” Riley just shrugged, also surprised that he hadn’t thought to use it earlier. He wasn’t exactly sure what it would do to humans, he was just told not to try.
“So what exactly does that thing do?” Giles inquired.
“Well, it stuns the H.S.T. long enough for us to get it back to the lab.”
“Why would you want a vampire in your laboratory?”
“I’m not in charge of that aspect, sir. My orders are strictly search and capture.” Riley frowned.
“Still, it seems rather odd. If you are hunting vampires because they have finally been recognized as a danger to human safety, one would think you’d just stake them and be done with it.”
“I have no idea what you mean.” Riley admitted.
“Curious.” Giles muttered. “Well, then, if we see any vampires in there, we shall try to subdue them long enough to question them, then stake them. Now, we should probably be quiet from here on out.”
“Yes, sir.” Riley nodded at the order, holding his gun at the ready position.
Silently, they entered through the old gym doors. Immediately they were struck by how dark the school was, even though the sun had not quite sunk below the horizon. Giles’ eyes darted from side to side as he led Riley through the once familiar corridors. Carefully, Giles opened the door to the basement access.
There was a loud grunt and a gurgle behind him. Spinning around, Giles saw a vampire choking Riley using Riley’s own weapon. Whipping his cross out, Giles charged at the vampire, who hissed at him, barring his fangs. Riley used the distraction to roll out of the headlock, but was unable to wrestle his gun away. The vampire, not liking the odds, kicked out at Giles, knocking him into a row of lockers. Riley began fighting with all his might, but knew that it would probably be a lost cause. Troops rarely survived single handed combats with H.S.T.s, especially without their tazers. The vampire pushed him into a locker and was about to sink his fangs into Riley’s neck, when he burst into a cloud of dust.
“Damn, I forgot we had intended to interrogate them.” Giles muttered, wiping the sweat off his brow.
“You saved my life.” Riley stared at Giles incredulously.
“Well, yes. What were you expecting?” Giles eyed Riley suspiciously.
“What just happened?”
“That is what happens when a vampire is staked, Mr. Finn.” Giles replied, slightly condescendingly. “One does not survive long in this town without knowing how to do a simple staking.” Riley stared at the dust pile in confusion.
~ The Mansion, Sunday, 5:30 pm ~
“Shotgun!” Willow called as Asher wheeled her onto the driveway.
“Hell no, I have shotgun. You get the back.” Spike replied, taking in the sight of Asher’s car. It was a black, sporty two-door that looked like it could break the sound barrier, easily.
“I called it first.” Willow pouted. Asher frowned. It seemed like their arguments were getting more and more bizarre. What was this talk of guns?
“If it were up to me, you’d be in the trunk with the rest of the baggage, cause darling, to me that’s your worth.” Spike glared at the redhead. “You’re lucky to get the back seat.”
“But I called shotgun.”
“Mademoiselle, I am afraid I must agree with Monsieur Spike on this one.” Asher quietly stated, having finally figured out what they were arguing about. “You will have enough room in the backseat to keep your leg elevated if you sit sideways. In your condition, that would be for the best.”
“In my condition? You make it sound like I’m pregnant!” Willow turned on the blonde, frowning. “I can stretch out in the front seat too.” Willow’s resolve face glared at Spike.
“Face it red, you’re in the backseat.” Spike opened the door, flipped forward the seat, and helped Asher drag the redhead into the car, kicking and screaming. Willow was absolutely appalled. The resolve face always worked; why wasn’t she in the front?
“I must make a phone call, would you care to drive?” Asher asked, lifting the wheel chair into the trunk.
“Hell, yeah! Now that’s what I’m talking about.” Spike grinned, taking the keys from Asher.
“Great, now we’re all going to die.” Willow mumbled.
“Nah, we’re already dead. You’re the only one who would die.” Spike smiled, jumping into the driver’s seat.
“Please, monsieur, drive carefully. I rather like this vehicle.” Asher took his place at shotgun.
Spike threw the car into reverse and squealed out of the driveway. “I rather like this vehicle too.” He smirked, peeling off towards the freeway.
~ UC Sunnydale Campus, Sunday, 6:20 pm~
“Daisy One to Thumper Two.” Forrest wearily sat on the edge of the bench.
“This is Thumper Two.” A crackly voice came over the radio.
“Yeah, Alpha has nothing to report yet. Are there any areas where you would need back up?” Forrest checked his watch; this checking in every hour was a pain.
“Beta team has the city covered, you are not required for this mission.” Thumper Two answered, glad that the reception wasn’t so good. Perhaps the Alphas wouldn’t be able to hear his bitterness every time they called in. How dare they try to take this mission from his squad when obviously it was due to their own squad’s error!
“Ten four.” Forrest angrily kicked a tree trunk as he slipped his radio back in his belt.
“What did Beta team have to say?” Graham asked, pulling a notebook out of his backpack.
“Nothing. They don’t need our help, or so they claim.”
“Okay, so we’ve tried the dorms, their classes, and the Rosenberg residence. Do we try the Summers’ residence next?” Graham, crossed ‘Willow’s house’ off the list.
“What else is on the list?”
“Well, there’s still everyone in the girls’ address books. We haven’t tried that magic shop that Rosenberg had all those receipts for. We could go back to their dorm and try hacking their computers, but I’m not really up for that.”
“Oh, what about any arms dealers?”
“What?” Graham eyed Forrest curiously.
“Well, aren’t you curious about where all those battle axes under Summer’s bed came from?”
“All I have to say is that Riley’s in way over his head if she’s in to that kind of kink.”
“Whoa, where’d that come from?” Forrest smirked.
“Oh come on, you were thinking it too.” Graham blushed.
“Well, yeah, but still, Agent Miller I’m shocked by your dirty mind … and so proud I’m finally rubbing off on you.”
“Yeah, well, it’s not quite a Kodak moment without Finn’s blushing, so we should probably get moving and get him back ASAP.”
“So where to next?”
“Summers’ house, then we’ll start with their friends.” Graham slipped his notebook back into his backpack.