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Hope Chapter Eleven
waddiwasiwitch
Gosh I hate the new lj posting system as I can't figure out how to get paragraph spacing in because hitting return just doesn't work anymore.  Any tips anyone.  It really puts me off posting here.                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Disclaimer: I don't own but I enjoy playing.


Hope

Chapter Eleven: Plans Afoot

Spike was interrupted in his furious musings by a knock on the door.

"Come in," Angel called and in walked Charles Gunn.

"No news I am afraid, Angel!" he said to a despondent Angel who sighed. It was then Gunn noticed Spike and Buffy.

"Good to see you man," he said embracing Spike like a brother which surprised Buffy. Obviously, they were good friends. Buffy had never really thought about Spike having friends before except for Clem of course. Buffy could see that Spike had built himself a life here in Los Angeles and it hurt. Spike could live well enough without her. Her friends did not like him and never had treated him with respect. No wonder he did not tell her he was back. He was respected here. This was quite confusing. Normally Spike was the one on the outside looking in and she was the one who belonged.

"Gonna introduce me to the lovely lady?" Gunn said to Spike, who immediately obliged.

"Buffy, this is Gunn, and Gunn, this is Buffy"

Gunn shook her hand warmly.

"I have to head out" Angel said excusing himself, "Buffy can you make that call right away?"

"Yeah," she replied to his retreating back and quickly excused herself to the two remaining men and followed Angel out the door.

"Angel wait!" she called as he walked away. He stopped but didn't turn around.

"We will get him back, Angel," she promised as she caught up with him.

"I wish I could truly believe that," Angel said quietly.

"Don't give up," she said, grabbing his hand and giving it a squeeze.

"I am not giving up," he snapped, "You don't understand what it is like. I will never give up."

"Sorry, Angel. I didn't mean it like that."

"I know, Buffy," he said more softly this time.

Buffy just watched helplessly as he walked out the door. She desperately wanted to make it better for him but there was nothing she could do. She headed back to the room and could hear Gunn and Spike taking amicably. She was about to open the door when the topic of conversation turned to her.

"So that is Buffy, huh?" Gunn asked.

"Yeah that's her, the not so one and only Slayer anymore!"

"She is a hottie," Gunn said. "I can see what you and Angel see in her. What I can't make out is what she sees in the Fang Brothers?"

"Hell if I know what she saw in Captain Forehead, but I'm a right handsome bastard! What can I say; the girl's got taste."

Buffy laughed and pushed open the door. Spike caught her eye and she knew he had been aware of her presence at the door. She blushed a deep shade of red. Damn vampire. It was not just his vampire senses but he always seemed to see things others didn't. Why couldn't he be all non-observey like most men? Gunn was grinning at the blush on her face and Spike was looking smug.

Buffy decided that she would quickly engage in topic change. "You boys are going to take me out to dinner, but first I have to make a phonecall."

"Buffy-" Spike began.

"Don't start Spike," she warned him."I have to do this."

"Fine," he conceded ungraciously. "I'm heading out for a drink first. Charlie, are you coming?"

"Be back in an hour," Buffy said, "I'm starving"

Spike nodded much to Gunn's chagrin. Spike headed out the door in a huff his black duster trailing impressively after him which was the intention obviously. Nobody could throw a better strop than her Spike. Gunn was still standing there with an odd look on his face.

"What?" Buffy asked impatiently.

"I like you!" Gunn headed out the door after his friend leaving Buffy slightly puzzled. Now she had to get back to the job at hand. This was going to be fun.

**********************

Riley had been only delighted to hear from Buffy and assured her that he could be there the following day. Buffy was surprised that Riley was able to get away so early, but Riley was true to his word and the following evening they were all gathered once again in the office. It was good that Gunn was there as you could cut the tension with a knife. Spike had been sulking for the last twenty four hours that neither Buffy nor Angel would listen to his list of reasons why Riley should not be involved. His mood had not improved either. Spike and Riley were glaring at each other. Angel was lost in his own thoughts and Buffy was just trying to think of way to break the uncomfortable silence. She looked at Gunn for ideas but it seemed he was just as uncomfortable as she was.

"So three exes in the same room," Buffy muttered under her breath. "This is not awkward at all." That was another reason she was glad that Gunn was there. She felt less like a slut. She had only slept with most of the men in the room and not all of them. She left out an unintentional giggle at that last thought. The whole room turned to her in surprise and she decided she better get the meeting underway. Angel was clearly and understandably distracted while Spike and Riley were trying to outstare each other. This had been her idea so she would embrace her inner general.

"Let's get down to business," she said firmly banging her hand on Angels desk in an effort to gather their attention. She managed to gather their attention alright, although she also managed to knock over a really expensive looking statue. This really was not her day, but it worked because all of them were looking at her in a bemused way. She quickly picked up the statue and cleared her throat.

"Riley, I have given you the cliff notes on Connor's disappearance but maybe Gunn could give you the full lowdown. We think the Initiative's behind it. Have you heard anything at all?"

"I really haven't heard about any projects in LA." Riley said apologetically, "I said as much on the phone. I'm willing to help out where I can and if I do hear anything at all then you'll be the first to know."

There was an audible snort from a scowling Spike.

"Thanks Riley," Buffy said meaning it.

"Hypothetically, if there was a base in LA, have you any idea where they might be?" Angel asked. This was the first sentence to come out of his mouth since Riley arrived. Riley shook his head.

"Looks like we are back to square one." Spike's scowl deepened. "Asking Farmboy was a waste of our time!"

Buffy clenched her fists in effort to rein in her temper. She took a deep before turning to Spike.

"Riley may not know anything yet, but as he said he is here to help and we need to take any help we can get," Buffy pointed out.

He said nothing and she knew he was listening even if he didn't agree. They really didn't have time for jealous vampire histrionics. She focused on the task in hand and vowed to talk to Spike later.

"Gunn, how about you fill in Riley in?" Buffy proposed.

She didn't think that Angel was up to it and she and Spike had only been there since the day before so Gunn was the logical choice.

"Angel, can I talk to you?" she asked.

****************

Spike could see Buffy was occupied with Peaches and decided it was time to have a chat with Captain Cardboard.

"Hey man, how about we go somewhere a little less populated?" Gunn proposed to Riley.

However, Spike followed them out the door which kind of defeated the purpose of leaving.

"Don't worry not following. I just want a quiet word alone with Soldierboy here," Spike said.

"Okay, but there better not be any bloodshed," Gunn conceded and continued on this way.

"I don't really want to talk to you Spike," Riley said impatiently.

"Tough because I want to talk to you," Spike said in a deadly tone, "If I find out that you have something to do with this I will kill you and I promise it will hurt."

"Are you threatening me?" Riley asked incredulously.

"You know my noggin's chip free these days," the vampire continued threateningly.

"You know you ought to be careful because if it does turn out that the Initative is gathered in LA then you might just end up back inside. You forget I have a lot of powerful contacts."

"Yeah is that so?" Spike responded nonchalantly. "And if I wanted I could just rip your throat open."

Spike grinned and turned around leaving Riley speechless in his wake. He headed back into the office where Angel and Buffy were talking.

"I could get Willow to come and do a locater spell."

"No point already tried that!" Angel said.

Buffy and Spike were taken aback. If a locater spell failed then it must mean that they must be using magic somehow or maybe that Connor was already dead.

"Willow's really powerful though." Buffy's voice shook a little. "Maybe we should ask her to try anyway?"

"Since when did the Initiative mess with hocus pocus?" Spike asked Buffy.

Neither of them voiced the fear that they were sure Angel was feeling. It was unlikely that Connor would be kidnapped just to be killed. If that were true then magic must be involved. Was it really the Initiative that they were dealing with? Perhaps they had it all wrong but all the clues seemed to lead to them. If the Initiative were messing with the magics then they were even more dangerous. There had been times when it had served them well but many others when it had gone wrong. If Willow had been lured into Dark Magic then what could it do to a bunch of mad scientists and dumb soldiers?

To be continued..                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                


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