Xander leaned back against the mausoleum and watched as Buffy toyed with the newly risen vampire. He could hear her taunting the dirt covered man as she danced around him and he sighed in frustration. They had too much to do and they didn’t have time for her to play with still confused fledge.
“Hurry up,” Xander yelled, pushing away from the wall. “We still have to hit Restview and the Bronze tonight.”
“Chill, Xander,” she snapped, absently staking the fledge when it lunged for her. “We have plenty of time.”
“No we don’t,” he said, trying to keep his voice even. “I have work in the morning and you have an eight o’clock class, remember?”
“I can miss class,” she shrugged.
“Yeah, well I can’t miss work, so let’s go,” he growled, turning to head in the direction of Restview.
“Why don’t you just go home then,” she yelled, stomping a foot.
Spinning back around he threw a stake at the vampire sneaking up on her. “That’s why I don’t go home. And if you would just accept Spike’s help I would be home and sleeping.”
“I don’t trust him,” Buffy said. She glanced at the pile of dust. “Thanks.”
“Yet you trust Riley?” he questioned. “I’d rather trust Spike; at least I know his motivations.”
“I know Riley’s,” she protested. “He helps because he loves me.”
Xander smiled sadly. “He helps because he regrets what happened. But he won’t be sorry all the time. And where is he tonight anyway?”
She sighed, slumping a little. “I don’t know,” she admitted. “He didn’t come home last night.”
Stepping closer Xander asked the first question that came to mind. “Do you think he’s turned?”
Fat tears rolled down Buffy’s cheeks and he steeled himself against comforting her.
“I don’t know,” she whispered. “I had Tara do a warding on the house and the shop. I’m afraid to find out.”
Looking around, Xander sighed. “Hit the Bronze and Restview,” he told her quietly. “I’ll look for Riley.”
“I’ll take care of it,” he promised.
Buffy hugged him tightly. “I didn’t want to ask you. But I didn’t know who to turn to.”
“I’m here for you, Buffy, as much as I can be and as much as you’ll let me,” he told her softly. “Go finish patrol. I’ll call you when I know something or when I get home.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, heading off.
Shaking his head, Xander pulled out his cell and hit the speed dial button.
“What?” a familiar voice snapped on the third ring.
Xander grinned. “Have you seen Riley?”
“Not tonight. He missing?”
“Yep,” Xander smirked. “Need to see if he’s turned.”
“Bloody hell!” There was a moment of silence followed by inventive swearing. “I’ll have someone look into it.”
“Thanks, babe,” Xander said.
“Anything for you, pet. Love you.”
“Love you too, Spike,” Xander replied. “I’m gonna check the Rothans and Willy’s before heading home. Call me if you find out anything.”
“I will. See you soon,” Spike said then hung up.
Closing the phone, Xander heading to Willy’s first, hoping the snitch would know something so he wouldn’t have to deal with the information demons. He couldn’t stand Rothans. Their den smelled like decay and even the peppermint oil that Tara had found for him couldn’t cover the stench.
The bar was packed, but everyone moved out the way as he passed, letting him get to the front quickly. Willy said something to the patron he was with then hurried over.
“What can I get for you tonight, Consort?” the snitch asked nervously.
“Have you see Riley?” Xander asked, getting right to the point.
“The Slayer’s pet?” Xander nodded. “He was here last night. Left with a couple of succubae. I tried to warn him but he didn’t listen.”
Xander swore softly, smirking when Willy flinched. “Do you know where they took him?”
“The rent by hour hotel over on 7th,” Willy said. “That’s where they’ve been hunting from. Some of the Fyrals have been trying to get rid of them before they got noticed.”
“Thank them for me,” Xander commanded. “Last thing we need is Buffy realizing what’s going on in town.”
“She still hasn’t figured it out?”
“Her, Giles or Willow,” Xander said smugly.
Willy shook his head. “Some are intentionally blind. Did you want me to send someone over there?”
“No, I’ll go myself,” Xander answered. “Thank you though.”
“For you and the Master, anything,” Willy said sincerely. “And tell Spike I got that order he wanted.”
“I will, have a good night.”
Jogging quickly, he headed over to 7th street, only pausing to call Spike and inform him. When he reached the hotel Spike was waiting for him, several minions behind him.
“What’s the what?” Xander asked, coming to halt next to his lover.
“There’s five of them in there,” one of the minions reported. “He’s still alive, but weak.”
“Call Slutty,” Spike told Xander. “She can take care of him while we deal with the demons.”
Nodding, Xander placed the call. A few minutes later Giles’ car pulled up. Buffy, Willow, Tara and the ex-Watcher piled out, only Tara not staring at the massing minions.
“What’s going on here?” Giles demanded. “Why are all these vampires here?”
“We’re here because the Master told us to be here,” one of the vampires answered, looking at Giles like he was dumb. “We go where he tells us to.”
“And who is the Master?” Buffy asked. “Spike?”
Xander grinned. “Nope, sorry.”
“You?” she asked, palming a stake.
“Still human, Buffy,” he said, still grinning.
“He’s the Consort,” a helpful minion pointed out. Giles glared, making the vampire back up and hide.
“Then who?” she demanding, crossing her arms over her chest.
“How about we find out after we get Cornfed out of there,” Spike suggested.
Blushing, Buffy listened to them layout the problem and everyone’s positions. It only took minutes for them to break into the hotel room. Buffy and Willow grabbed Riley, dragging him outside while the rest of them sent the succubae back to their domain. Once they were finished the minions headed back to headquarters while Xander and Spike followed Giles and the others back to the Magic Box.
“Who is the Master?” Giles asked once they were settled around a table. “And I thought you were with Spike? How can you be the Consort if Spike is not the Master?”
“I am with Spike,” Xander said. “Just not only with Spike.”
“Who else then?” Buffy said, glaring from her position beside the groggy Riley.
“That would be me.”
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