Angel used the intercom on his desk to call Spike into his office, he held an invitation in his hand.

Spike came in and sat down across from Angel promptly propping his boots up on the antique desk. Angel frowned at him and swatted his feet from the desk top. "What do you want?" Spike asked frowning back at him. The last year had been a strange compromise between the two vampires with Spike reluctantly helping Angel Investigations in exchange for a place to stay. The hotel had plenty of room so he and Angel could have their privacy.

"Are you going?" Angel asked him tapping the invitation on his desk.

"Going where?" Spike asked as if he didn't know.

"You know where, Ryan's first birthday party." Angel replied.

"Don't think so. They'll probably have clowns and a pony and I just don't think I can handle that. I'll send the little guy a gift, you make my excuses for me, okay?" He stood up to leave.

"No." Angel said flatly.

"No? Why not?"

"I'm not making any more excuses to Buffy for you, Spike. You helped bring this child into the world and how many times have you seen him since? I made your excuses for you when you wouldn't attend the wedding. I refuse to see that look on Buffy's face again. She knew I was covering for you. If you don't want to go to her child's birthday then you can tell her why." Angel tossed the invitation at him, "Her phone number is on the invitation."

"Fine," Spike spit out as she picked up the colorful card, "I'll call myself." He reached across the desk for the phone. He dialed the number and waited for an answer.

*****

"Come back here, sweetie." Buffy called after the little boy toddling around the living room in only a tee shirt. He had escaped when she lie him down onthe rug to change his diaper.

The little boy giggled at his Mommy and ran unsteadily down the hallway. Buffy laughed as she followed him. She caught him up in her arms and nuzzledhis light brown head, he smelled like baby lotion. The phone rang and she carried the squirming child to the kitchen.

"Hello." She answered the phone on the wall. Ryan squealed in his mother's arms.

"Hello, Buffy?" Spike answered as he listened to the baby laughing in the background.

Buffy smiled as she recognized the voice, "Spike?"

"Yeah, it's me. About the birthday party..." He started but was interrupted by Buffy.

"You're coming right?" She asked and he could hear the hope in her voice.

"Well actually, I'm kind of busy, Angel has me working on this case." He told her as Angel rolled his eyes at him.

"Oh, I'm sorry. It would have been nice to see you." She told him. He could hear her disappointment in her voice.

Spike sighed and spoke again, "I was gonna say, I'm working on this case. But it can wait, of course I'll be there."

Angel had to bite his tongue so he didn't laugh out loud. He had known that if Spike had to speak to Buffy he would cave. He would have loved to rub it in Spike's face but that could wait for another time.

"Yes, I'll see you then. Bye." Spike hung up the phone and looked at Angel raising his eyebrows, "And what are you smiling at Peaches?"

"Not a thing. I guess you will be riding with me to Sunnydale tomorrow night?" He asked with a grin.

"It looks that way." Spike told him as he sat back down in the chair.

*********

Buffy smiled as she hung up the phone, she carried the baby to the living roomand put a diaper on him.

"That was Uncle Spike he and Uncle Angel are coming to your birthday party!"

Ryan grinned at her showing his front teeth. She tickled his belly and he giggled loudly. He was such a beautiful miracle, light brown hair, his moms nose and eyes yet he held a very strong resemblance to his Daddy. Her mother said he was a perfect blend of the two.

"Let's get dinner done. Daddy will be home soon. And Mommy has to go out tonight." She carried Ryan and a handful of toys into the kitchen, she sat him on the floor in the dining room with his toys where she could see him and started dinner.

Riley walked in as she was setting the table. He smiled and kissed her lightly and then picked up the smiling baby, who was jabbering for his "Dada."

"How is daddy's boy today?" He bounced the baby up in the air smiling as he giggled.

"He's been full of energy all day. And he only took a short nap, so I'm sure he'll go to sleep for you early tonight." Buffy told him as she put the rest of dinner on the table and got Ryan's plate ready.

Riley's expression turned serious, "Are you patrolling tonight?" He asked as he put Ryan in his high chair.

She sighed and nodded.

"Buffy....."

"Riley, let's not argue about it, okay?"

"Okay." He nodded unhappily.

Dinner was eaten in silence. Afterwards Buffy did the dishes while Riley bathed Ryan. He came downstairs with the baby dressed in his pajamas and large book of nursery rhymes in his hand.

Buffy was dressed for patrol as she kissed her son on the top of his head and whispered, "Goodnight. Mommy loves you." Riley was still upset so she didn't push anything.

She turned to go to the door, "Buffy." Riley called to her.

"Yes." She turned to find him standing beside her Ryan in one arm. He wrapped the other arm around her in a tight hug, "Be careful, I love you."

She leaned up and kissed his cheek, "I will be. I love you."

And with that Riley Finn watched his wife, the mother of his son walk out the door to face who knew what. He hated it, he hated that everytime she walked out that door could be the last time........

**********

After Buffy left, Riley picked up Ryan and sat down in the large wooden rocker in the cozy living room. He tried to concentrate on the pictures that the little boy pointed at with his chubby finger. Soon Ryan was sleeping peacefully and he took him to his room and tucked him in the crib, making sure he was covered he turned out the light and went back to the living room.

He flipped through the channels and fell asleep watching the eleven 0'clock news. Buffy found him sleeping on the couch when she came in at one am.The remote was still in his hand and he looked so sweet lying there eyes closed, and hair tousled. She bent over and placed a feather soft kiss on his lips. He woke up then and gave her a soft smile. "You're back." He said sleepily.

"Uh huh. Your're tired, huh?" She asked him running her hand up and down his arm. Suddenly she was filled with longing for him, she was tired of the arguments over slaying and the guilt over leaving Ryan. For a moment she wanted to forget.

Riley sensed that she needed some reassurance. Even though her patrolling made him angry at times and he found it hard to understand why she couldn't give it up. He still loved her above it all. He sat up and smiled at her. Then ran a gentle hand over a scratch on her cheek. He leaned forwards and kissed the scratch whispering "I'm not that tired, Buffy."

She giggled "Let's check on Ryan, first." She offered him her hand and he took it following her to Ryan's room. They both peeked in at the sleeping baby satisfied that he was sound asleep. She led Riley to their room.

He surprised her by picking her up and carrying her to the bed. He gently removed each item of clothing she wore as if he were unwrapping a special gift, being careful not to hurry and tear the paper. She smiled up at him enjoying the warmth of his hands all over her body. He leaned over and let his lips catch one nipple teasing it with his tongue as she moaned softly. "You have too many clothes on." She giggled softly.

He broke away and undressed, quickly rejoining her on the bed. Her small hands ran up and down his muscled chest as her lips found his, thier tongues fighting a delicious duel. "I love you." He moaned softly as he plunged inside of her.

"I love you, too." She replied as she met his thrusts with equal fervor. They were soon caught up in a sensual dance of love and passion. Where the only sounds heard in the room were soft moans of desire and soft whispers of love until a mutual climax was met and they held each other tightly in the bed, sleepy and satisified. Riley watched as Buffy slept curled up next to him, he put an arm around her protectively, wishing it could always be like this.

********

"How long do we have to stay in Sunnydale?" Spike asked Angel as they wrapped the birthday gifts on Angel's desk.

"Overnight. The party is Saturday. Giles said we could stay at his place tomorrow night and during the day until the party, then we'll leave after the party Saturday night." Angel explained as he taped a huge bow on his gift.

"Good. I don't want to be around the soldier boy any longer then I have to." Spike grimaced.

"Spike, we're doing this for Buffy. Remember that." Angel warned him.

"I know, I know. It's just that it's hard." Spike sighed and sat down. "I don't know how you stood going to that wedding."

"It wasn't easy, but I want Buffy happy." Angel told him as he sat down behind his desk.

"And you never let any bad thoughts enter your mind during the whole ceremony?" Spike raised his eyebrow at Angel.

Angel grinned, "I didn't say that. I kept thinking Riley looked ridiculous in his suit, Buffy was much too good for him, and when the Preacher asked if anyone had any objections I wanted to stand up and scream "I do" in my loudest voice and grab Buffy and run."

"Why didn't you?" Spike asked interestedly.

"Because Joyce sat in front of me holding Ryan. And I saw his little face peeking at me as his head rested on her shoulder. And I knew this was what Buffy wanted, what she deserved. So I sat there with a pasted smile on my face and kept my mouth shut. And if you love her half as much as you say you do, you'll do the same thing - keep your mouth shut."

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

Riley woke first to the sound of Ryan on the baby monitor. He appeared to be jabbering to himself as he played in his crib. He eased out of bed and went to the baby's room. Ryan lifted his arms out to Riley as he entered the room,a smile on his round face. Riley picked him up and carried him back to he and Buffy's room.

Buffy woke and sat up when she heard her 'boys' enter the room. "Good morning." She said cheerfully taking Ryan from Riley as he climbed back into the bed beside her. Ryan crawled in between them. He sat there playing with his mommy's hair and talking about 'mama' and 'dada' happily. Buffy cooed at him and tickled his tummy, both of them giggling as Riley watched. He loved these mornings when the three of them could be togther, for a moment he wished it could always be morning, sunlight coming through the curtains and no chance of the dangers of nighttime ever spoiling his happy family.

**********

After a leisurely hour of playing with Ryan. Buffy edged off the bed, "I'm going to shower, okay?"

Riley nodded and smiled at her as he watched her walk to the bathroom. He was glad he'd taken the day off from the University. He'd started working there with their ROTC program and really enjoyed it. But he had not had a weekday off in ages and it was nice. He picked up Ryan and took him to the kitchen for breakfast. He was watching him play in his oatmeal when the doorbell rang.

Riley answered the door to find the UPS man standing there with a large package. The return address was in Iowa, it was Ryan's birthday gift from Riley's parents. He signed for it and took the package back to the kitchen where Buffy was cleaning up Ryan's breakfast mess. "What is that?" She asked as she took the squirming baby from his high chair.

"Ryan's gift from Mom and Dad. You know they were really sorry they couldn't make it." He told her as he started opening the box. Ryan came to help, trying to stand on his tiptoes and look in the box.

"I know, but maybe they can come at Christmas and stay with us a few days." Buffy told him patting his back.

"Maybe, but your nocturnal activities might be hard to explain." Riley told her a small frown crossing his face.

Buffy sighed, "Not today, Riley. Please let's not argue." She said softly.

He kissed the top of her head then and replied softly, "I'm sorry."

"Well, what is it?" Buffy asked cheerfully.

Riley laughed when he got the box fully open. "It's tractor." He said as he lifted the small green tractor from the box. Ryan smiled and clapped his hands when he saw it.

Riley sat him on the tractor and pushed him around the kitchen. Ryan laughed loudly as his daddy pushed him around the house. Buffy found the camera and took several shots of the two of them.

Riley showered and bathed Ryan as Buffy cleaned up the high chair. They were going out to do some shopping for the birthday party. They picked up some food and ordered the cake and dropped it off at the house before going to the mall for lunch and some decorations. Riley enjoyed going out with Buffy and Ryan, he noticed the admiring glances that Buffy got and it made him proud to be her husband and Ryan was a beautiful and outgoing baby who garnered attention by jabbering to everyone he passed in his stroller.

When they stopped for lunch a couple of college students came to admire Ryan and say hello to Riley. Buffy noticed that one of the girls barely noticed she was there. When the girls left she teased Riley, "I think she likes you."

Riley shrugged, "She's a student, Buffy."

Buffy winked at him, "So, was I once."

He leaned over and kissed her cheek, "And you are also the only woman for me."

She smiled at him as they gathered their bags and their exhausted son to take home. Ryan promptly fell asleep in the car and Riley carried him to his room and tucked him in as Buffy put away the party supplies. Riley found her in the kitchen, he walked up behind her putting his arms around her slim waist and nuzzling the back of her neck. She turned around and faced him placing both hands on his chest. He leaned down and gave her a deep kiss. She returned it eagerly and frowned when he pulled away.

"This is nice." He sighed.

Then she smiled at him, "Yes, it is." And her lips found his again.

"How long do you think he'll sleep?" Riley murmured against her lips.

She broke the kiss and took his hand leading him towards thier room, "Long enough." She said seductively.

They spent the next two hours cocooned in their bed, loving and laughing together. It had been too long since they had took time for themselves. All too soon Ryan's voice was heard over the monitor bringing them back to reality.

"He's awake." Riley kissed her on the nose as he went to get Ryan. Buffy followed him and stand at the doorway to the baby's room watching Riley change his son's diaper. Sometimes at moments like these she felt her life was perfect.

*********

"I think it's a good idea, don't you Giles?" Willow asked as she lay the books she had borrowed on his desk.

"Umm, I guess so." Giles nodded as he read a thick volume.

"I mean it's been awhile since we were all together and I think dinner tonight with Spike and Angel would be nice, you will come right?" She said cheerily.

"Yes, but I'm not so sure Riley, Spike and Angel in the same room is such a good idea." Giles warned her.

"That's all in the past I'm sure everyone will get along just fine now. I'll call Buffy now, so she can find a babysitter." She told him as she picked up his phone.

*******

Buffy answered the phone on the second ring, "Hello.'

"Buffy, it's me, Willow. Giles, Xander and Anya would like for you and Riley to come have dinner with us and Angel and Spike tonight? Will you come?"

"I'd love to but I have to ask Riley, and I'll need to call Mom to babysit. I'll call you back in a little while,where are you at?' She smiled at Riley as he mouthed the words "Who is it?" She mouthed back "Willow."

"I'll be at Giles for a little while, then home." Willow said her good byes and hung up the phone.

"Willow wants us to join she and Giles, Xander and Anya, Spike and Angel for dinner tonight. Is that okay?" She asked him hopefully.

Riley only hesitated for a moment before he shook his head, "Sure, sounds like fun." He gave her a small smile and went back to watching cartoons with Ryan.

"Good, I'll call Mom and let Willow know." Buffy kissed his cheek and picked up the phone.

*********

Later that evening

"It was nice of Joyce to take Ryan for the night." Riley told Buffy as sat on the edge of bed putting on his shoes. He watched Buffy putting on the finishing touches, she looked beautiful. She's mine he thought to himself as she turned to him a smiled brightly. He could get through this dinner, after all she had married him, she had given birth to his child. There was absolutely no reason to be jealous of Angel or Spike.

"She enjoys having him and this way, we can decorate and pick up the cake without worrying about him. She said she would bring him over tomorrow afternoon. Are you ready?" She asked slipping on her coat.

"As I'll ever be." He replied under his breath and nodded at her.

*********

Angel looked at Giles, "This was Willow's idea?" He asked unsurely.

"Yes, she thinks it would be nice for us to all get together for dinner. I tried to explain that I wasn't sure it was a good idea. Buffy and Riley have enough tens.." Thinking better of what he had been going to say Giles stopped midsentence.

Spike and Angel both looked at him. "Buffy and Riley have enough what?" Spike spoke first.

Giles looked flustered. "Giles?" Angel prodded.

"Tension, they are having a little bit of tension right now." Giles sighed.

"Tension about what?" Spike asked Giles then turned to Angel "I told you he wouldn't make her happy."

"Spike, let Giles talk." Angel admonished him.

"Well umm, it seems that Riley is rather upset that Buffy still patrols." Giles explained.

"She's the Slayer, it's her job." Spike rolled his eyes.

"Is it causing problems?" Angel asked concern in his voice.

"I only know what Willow has told me, Buffy confided in her that they have argued lately when she goes on patrol. She feels guilty for leaving he and Ryan when she does patrol, and guilty for not patroling when she stays home. She's between as they say, a rock and a hard place."

"He's making her feel bad? Has he made her cry?" Spike asked anger seeping into his voice.

Giles turned and looked at him, "I don't know if he's made her cry, Spike." He turned to Angel for an explanation of Spike's question. Angel shrugged his shoulders. Giles continued, "Anyway, we are going to meet everyone for dinner at Laramies and we are all going to be on our best behavior."

Angel looked at Spike, "That means you too, Spike. And as far as Buffy knows we know nothing about the trouble she and Riley are having."

"Yeah, yeah, yeah." Spike mumbled under his breath as the three men walked out to Gile's car.

****

"It's going to be nice to see everyone again, isn't it?" Buffy asked cheerfully as Riley opened her car door for her.

She means it will be nice to see Angel and Spike again he said to himself frowning. Out loud he said "I can't wait." He smiled and took Buffy's hand in his they went into the restaurant and found Willow along Xander and Anya already at the table.

"Hi!" Buffy told her friends as she hugged everyone's neck. She and Riley took their seats.

"So where are the other guests?" Riley asked secretly hoping that Spike and Angel had somehow forgot their way back to Sunnydale.

"They'll be here any minute. I talked to Giles and Spike and Angel got here safely." Willow said enthusiastically, "It will be nice to see them won't it?"

"Can't wait." Riley muttered under his breath.

Buffy turned to him, "Did you say something?"

"No, just that it's great that they came in for the birthday." Riley told her with a smile as he took her hand in his.

"Here they are." Xander said as everyone looked up.

Giles, Angel and Spike walked over to the large table. Willow scooted down as Spike and Angel both went for her chair next to Buffy almost sitting on top of each other. Angel managed to get sat down first. Spike frowned at him and took the seat next to him.

Giles sat down on the other side of Riley. Oh yes, Willow this was a grand idea he thought as he cleaned his glasses with his napkin.

Angel leaned over and gave Buffy a big hug. "It's good to see you." He said softly.

"You too." She said back reaching over Angel and giving Spikes shoulder a soft squeeze, "It's good to see you too, Spike. I can't wait for you to see Ryan."

Spike smiled at her touch, "I can't wait to see him either." He watched Riley from the corner of his eye he could see the unhappiness on his face.

Riley watched his wife interact with the two vampires. He knew the hug for Angel and squeeze of Spike's shoulder were completely innocent. But it bugged him, she shared alot with these two, things that made a bond between the three of them, a bond that he wasn't part of. He felt like there was so much of Buffy's life that he wasn't a part of. Silly he knew but still the insecurity was there.

Pleasant conversation ensued as the old friends caught up on recent events.The band began to play and Xander and Anya got up to dance, Giles asked Willow and Angel asked Buffy. She looked at Riley to judge how he felt about it and he smiled his approval.

Spike watched from the table as Buffy and Angel danced. They looked as if they were made for each other, gliding around the dance floor effortlessly. He noted that Riley although having let Buffy go with Angel did not look happy as he watched the two dance. Never being one to beat around the bush and never being one to listen to Angel, Spike turned to Riley, "So you are giving Buffy problems about her slaying?" He asked harshly.

"Did she tell you that? She probably did, told you how Riley didn't want her out risking her life when she had a baby at home. I guess she knows that you and Angel are always going to be on her side doesn't she?" Riley asked him shaking his head. "What goes on between Buffy and I is none of your business."

"No, she didn't tell me. But you better get used to it Finn, slaying is a part of Buffy. . If she's worried about you being angry with her for patroling she's going to slip up and then you are going to lose her.You better accept that part of her. She needs someone who accepts her, all of her. And if you aren't willing I know there are others who are." Spike nodded his head towards Buffy and Angel on the dance floor.

*******

"So how is everything going?" Angel asked.

"Just fine." Buffy smiled at him.

"And patroling, are you still going out a lot?"

"Whenever I can. But it's harder now, with Ryan and Riley........" Her sentence trailed off.

"He doesn't like it does he?" Angel asked with understanding. "I wouldn't like it either, but I understand you dont' have a choice. I'm sure he'll come around."

"I hope so. I'm sure it will be okay." Buffy told him with a convincing smile.

********

"You really think she would be be better off with Angel then with me?" Riley asked with disbelief.

"Angel or someone else." Spike told him taking a long drag from his cigarette.

"Like you maybe?" Riley asked with a harsh laugh.

Spike just looked at him and gave him a sly grin. "Maybe."

Buffy and Angel walked to the table and could feel the tension as soon as they sat down. Buffy looked from Spike to Riley. Riley stood and took her hand, "Let's dance." She followed him almost afraid to ask what had gone on between he and Spike.

******

"Spike what just went on here? I saw the look on Riley's face." Angel asked him shaking his head.

"I just let him know how things were, a Slayer slays, that's the way it is and if he can't support her in that, there are others who will volunteer for the job." Spike said matter of factly.

"You didn't." Angel closed his eyes and sighed. He wasn't sure if he should stake Spike for surely causing trouble or if he should shake his hand for telling Riley off.

He and Spike watched as the others came back to the table and Buffy and Riley danced. Angel could feel the trouble brewing between them from where he sat.

**********

A slow song played and Riley pulled her close to him, she lay her head on his chest. "What's wrong?" She asked hesitantly.

"Spike loves you. Did you know?" He asked a hint of bitterness in his voice.

"Spike is my friend, Riley." Buffy looked up him, "He doesn't love me."

"Yes, he does. In fact it would seem that three of the five men at the table are in love with you. Or maybe Ishould ask Xander how he feels about you he could be number four and maybe Giles has thing for you too." Riley spit the words out at her regretting them immediately when he saw the hurt on her face. She left him standing on the dance floor and walked back to the table gathering up her purse.

Angel noticed her discomfort as she gathered her things. "Are you okay?" He asked nodding towards Riley who was walking back to the table.

"Yeah, don't worry about me. I'll see you at the party tomorrow night." She told him and she turned to Spike "I'll see you then too."

"Maybe it would be a good idea for us to leave Ryan's gifts with Giles and skip the party." Angel asked her in low voice as Riley walked to the table.

"No, you were there for my entire pregnancy, Angel, Spike was even there when I found out I was pregnant,you are both coming to my son's birthday party. End of discussion." She said emphatically.

Riley put his arm around Buffy, "Sorry guys, but we need to make an early night, we've got to decorate for the birthday party tomorrow." She tensed in his embrace and he tried not to notice.

"Yes, we'll see you all tomorrow at seven." Buffy gave a small smile as she waved goodbye to her friends.

"Trouble in paradise?" Anya asked as she watched the couple leave.

"Anya." Xander frowned at her.

"Well...they are obviously upset with each other. I assume there will be no fun in their bed tonight."

Willow, Giles and Angel shot her dirty looks, Xander looked embarassed and Spike grinned broadly. The remaining friends said thier goodnights and left the restaurant.

*******

"You confronted, Riley. Spike how could you do that after Angel and I warned you?" Giles asked the unrepentent vampire.

"Someone needs to shake some sense into him. Buffy is the slayer, it's what she does. He needs to get over it and support her not make her feel guilty about it."

"But Spike it's none of our business. Riley is Buffy's husband." Angel tried to explain, although a smal lpart of him wanted to punch Riley in the face for not realizing what he had with Buffy.

"Like hell it isn't our business, like I told him, if she's worried about him being angry she's gonna slip up and we're all going to lose her. You one time asked me if I wanted to live in a world without her in it, so I am asking you now - do you want to?" Spike lit a cigarette and stared hard at Angel.

"Spike, I'm sure Buffy and Riley will work this out in their own way." Giles assured the vampire slightly disturbed at the implications of Spikes' speech surely he didn't love Buffy too? How much more complicated could Buffy's life get?

"All I'm saying is if he hurts her he will deal with me." Spike sat down on the couch and crossed his arms.

Angel watched him worriedly, if they survived this birthday party it would be a miracle.

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

The drive to the Finn home was very quiet. Buffy stared out her window the entire trip. Riley wanted to apologize but he wasn't sure how to begin. His stupid jealousy and his fear of losing her had gotten to him again.

Buffy dressed for bed and crawled under the covers, the bed was still unmade from their afternoon of lovemaking. She closed her eyes and wished she could erase the evening and go back to the afternoon. Surely Riley was wrong about Spike, Spike was her friend. And he'd made her feel like a slut of some kind by implying that all of her men friends wanted her, it hurt. She loved *him*, she married *him*. What else did she have to do to prove her love?

Riley crawled into the bed next to her. He was worried, since thier wedding they had argued on different occasions, but they never ever went to bed angry. The worst part was that he knew she wasn't angry she was hurt. And he was the one who had hurt her.

He lay a gentle hand on her shoulder. "Buffy, are you awake?" He asked softly.

She turned to face him, "Yes, do you have another insult to throw my way?" She asked sarcastically.

"I deserve that." He readily admitted.

"Yes, you do. What's wrong? You know I love you, don't you?"

"Yes, I know you do. I just, I can't explain it." He sighed.

"I don't want to argue anymore tonight, Riley. I'm going to sleep." She rolled over away from him tears falling silently on her pillow.

"Buffy......." He whispered into the darkness. She didn't answer.

Turn out the lights, the competion's over
The stubborn souls are the losers here tonight,
And while the bridges burn,
Another hard, hard lessons learned.
While in the ashes passion slowly dies
And this romance goes down to foolish pride.

Travis Tritt "Foolish Pride"
**********

Riley woke first, he smiled as he felt the arm lying across his chest. During the night Buffy had moved closer to him. Maybe a good night's sleep was all they needed, perhaps they could just put last night behind them. Buffy's eyes fluttered open and she looked up at Riley, she quickly moved her arm and moved to get out of bed.

"Good morning." Riley said hopefully.

"Morning." She mumbled back at him on her way to the bathroom.

So much for putting last night behind them Riley thought as he got up and followed her. "Buffy..." he started.

"What? I've got a really busy day. It's my son's birthday, decorations to put up, a cake to pick up. I need to shower." She told him brusquely as she reached to turn the water on.

"I know it's *our* son's birthday. And I just wanted to apologize for last night, I was out of line." He said sincerely.

"Fine." She said shortly as she stepped into the shower and pulled the curtain closed.

Riley stepped out of the bathroom. It was the first time he had ever been dismissed by her like that. It was as if she didn't even want to listen to his explanation. Maybe if he started on the decorating she would soften a little bit. He went to the living room and started blowing up the balloons for the party with the small helium tank they had rented. He tied colorful ribbons on each one. Buffy came down shortly her hair still damp and her mood still chilly.

"How many balloons do you think we'll need?" He asked her trying to start a conversation.

"I don't know, whatever you think." She said as she disppeared into the kitchen. He found her there drinking a cup of coffee and chopping vegetables for the party platter.

She looked up and acknowledged he was there with a nod towards the coffee pot,"Fresh coffee if you want it."

"Sounds good." He told her as he poured himself a cup and sat down across from her at the table.

"Buffy, we need to talk. Ryan doesn't need parents who aren't speaking for his birthday." He gave her a small smile.

"I know." She smiled sadly, "It's just that you really hurt my feelings last night Riley."

"I know I did and I was wrong. I can't help it I get jealous of Spike and Angel and the fact that they approve of your patrolling and it bothers me so much is just another point against them." He sighed as he took a large sip of coffee.

"You don't have any reason to be jealous. And I am really tired of explaining the patrol situation over and over again. Do you think I like leaving Ryan, do you think I like leaving you. I know you worry and I'm sorry. But this is my life and you knew that when you married me."

"I know. But I can't stand the thought of losing you." He lay his hand on hers.

"I don't want to leave you either." She told him as she leaned forward and placed a kiss on his cheek.

*****

Hours later

Decorations were hung and a huge birthday cake sat on the table. Another smaller table held birthday gifts. Buffy and Riley had worked together not thinking about their problems only thier son. They were dressing for the party when Joyce brought Ryan by.

"It looks lovely, Buffy." Joyce told her as Ryan reached out his chubby little arms for his Mommy.

"Thanks." Buffy smiled as Ryan kissed her cheek and said "Mama."

"I'll be back tonight." Joyce told her as she left, "Bye Ryan."

"Bye Bye." Ryan waved at his grandmother.

"There's daddy's big boy." Riley smiled and reached for Ryan.

Buffy smiled at the two of them, despite everything she was a lucky woman,"Can you dress him? I'm going to get this punch started."

"Sure." Riley said as he took Ryan to his room

****

The Party

The guests all arrived on time with lots of presents in tow. Riley was civil to a quiet Spike as he came into the party. Buffy grinned and brought Ryan over to see his Uncle Spike.

"Spike this is Ryan." She told him as the little boy squirmed in her arms.

"He's grown." Spike said surprised. "I've seen the pictures Angel has on his desk, but I didn't realize he was this big. Hello, Ryan." Spike told him as he took one of Ryans hands in his. Ryan smiled at him and jabbered somethng that neither Buffy or Spike understood.

Spike laughed, "Nice to meet you too."

Buffy smiled and told Spike she'd see him later. She was still smiling at the fact that Ryan's pictures were on Angel's desk. That was so sweet.

Riley found Buffy and the two of them worked their way through the room. The guests munched on goodies and soon the cake was served. Angel noticed that they seemed to have gotten over whatever problem they'd had last night, he breathed a sigh of relief. He wanted Buffy happy no matter what.

Even Spike noticed what a handsome family Buffy, Riley and Ryan made. It made him want to gag, but they did look happy as they greeted the guests.

Ryan was precious as he sat in his highchair chocolate cake all over his face and hands a big grin on his face. His mommy cleaned him up and his parents helped him open the many gifts he had recieved.

The guests began to say their goodbyes one by one. An exhausted Ryan was carried to bed a new teddy bear under his arm.

"Thank you for coming to the celebration!" Buffy told Angel and Spike as they got ready to leave. "Are you going back to Giles tonight?"

"Just to pick up our things then we are going back to LA?" Angel told her as he put on his coat.

"Don't wait so long to come back." She whispered as he hugged her tightly.

"You take care, if you ever need me." He replied.

"I know."

She then turned to Spike, "Don't wait another year to visit, okay?"

It was Spike's turn to hug her and whisper in her ear, "If he hurts you...."

"It's okay, Spike." She assured him with a smile..

Giles hugged her and told her he was making a quick sweep of downtown, he would talk to her tomorrow. He and the vampires left together.

********

"I think it was a sucess." Riley told Buffy as he pulled her into a hug and kissed the top of her head.

"Me too. I'm going to start picking this mess up." She kissed him lightly on the lips and went to get a trashbag.

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

Riley was pulling down some crepe paper when the doorbell rang. He went to answer it and found Giles, Spike and Angel, all three wore worried frowns.

"What's wrong?" He asked fear creeping into his voice.

"Vampires, a whole gang of them, terrorizing the downtown area." Giles explained.

"Where is the Slayer?" Spike asked.

"She's in the kitchen." Riley answered looked at the three men in his living room. He knew what they wanted. "She's not going with you, not this time. It's Ryan's birthday." He pleaded in low tones.

"Riley, we need Buffy's help. I wish there was another way." Angel offered sympathetically.

"No." Riley said simply.

"Who was at the door?" Buffy asked as she entered the living room. "What's wrong?" She asked immediately when saw their guests.

"Gang of vampires having a jolly old time downtown. We thought maybe you could help slay them. But it seems like the hubby is forbidding you to come out and play." Spike said his voice dripping sarcasm.

Buffy turned to Riley, "What is he talking about?"

"I said you weren't going. It's Ryan's birthday you belong here."

"Riley, I have to go. You know that." Buffy replied in a soft voice. She moved to start gathering weapons from the closet.

"Buffy, if you leave........" Riley started but didn't finish his sentence.

She turned to him her eyes glaring, "If I leave what?"

He didn't answer but clenched his fists and left the living room.

Giles sighed, "Buffy we can probably do this on our own. We shouldn't have come for you."

"No, this is my job. Let's go." She turned and took one last look in the direction Riley had gone in, took a deep breath and closed the front door behind her.

*********

"He is an idiot, Slayer." Spike told Buffy once they settled in Gile's car.

"Spike, don't. You aren't helping." Buffy glared at him. The blond vampire shut his mouth.

Giles pulled parked by the Bronze, it wouldn't be hard to track the vamps, people were screaming in the streets. And when asked, it was obvious the vampires had moved to the Bronze for their meal.

Angel climbed on to the trash bin and peered in the top window. The vampires were at this point toying with the Bronze customers, enjoying the fear.

"How many?" Buffy asked as he jumped down.

"I counted 8. That's two a piece. I think we can handle that."

"Where are they at?" Spike asked.

"Two by the each entrance and four by the stage." Angel explained.

"Spike, you and Giles take the front entrance, Angel and I will go around back and then we'll rush the stage." Buffy gave the order.

"Works for me." Spike told her as he and Giles headed for the front door.

"You okay?" Angel asked her as they made their way around to the back alley.

"I'm fine." Buffy told him as she pulled out an extra stake and handed it to him.

"You know Riley cares, that's why he's upset."

"Yeah, well part of caring is understanding my job. You heard him he didn't finish the sentence but you know what he meant if I slay he doesn't want me back. I was a fool to think I could make this work." She said bitterly as she kicked in the back door.

The two vamps guarding it were dust before they figured out what happened. Buffy and Angel met Spike and Giles coming from the front of the club. The four vampires at the stage were not going to go down quite as easily as the guards had. Buffy was fighting off one vamp when she noticed that Giles was in trouble, forcefully pushing the vamp she was fighting into the drum kit she turned and staked the vamp that had Giles cornered. She offered him her hand to stand just as the vamp stood from the drum kit regained his composure and charged her, he picked her up and through her down on the stage, Angel and Spike both turned when they heard her wrist snap where she landed on it. She stood up blood streaming from a cut on her forehead. She raised her stake in her good hand, but the vampire turned to dust in front of her, when the dust settled Spike stood in front of her a smug look on his face.

The Bronze had emptied during the fight. Angel and Spike stood beside Buffy, checking her over other injuries. "Buffy, let me see that wrist?" Giles instructed as he joined the others at her side.

"It's broken. You're going to have to go the hospital with this. It's going to need to be set." Giles told her as he gently wrapped the wrist.

The three men settled her in the car and drove to the hospital. "That was a bit of fun wasn't it?" Spike grinned at her.

She rolled her eyes at him, "Gobs of fun. By the way, thanks." She said softly.

"Anytime." Spike replied and pulled her into a careful hug.

*******

"They've put her in an exam room." Giles said as he entered the waiting room.

"Shouldn't we call Riley?" Angel asked from his chair.

"Well, yes I guess we should." Giles answered as he sat down.

"Why? It's not like he cares." Spike told them rolling his eyes.

"He does care, Spike." Giles told him as he leaned back in the chair.

"Fine, give me your keys and I'll go get him." Spike stood up.

"You?" Angel asked with a frown.

"Why not me?" Spike asked as he unsucessfully tried not to smirk.

"Well besides the obvious that Riley hates you." Giles started.

"Just give me the keys. Buffy is going to want to see him."

Giles fished his keys out and handed them to Spike, "Do be careful. And try not to make things worse." Hesighed.

Spike took the keys and left the hospital. "I'm sure I'll regret doing that." Giles told Angel with a small smile.

"Probably." Angel agreed.

********

Buffy sat in the exam room alone, she was waiting to be taken to x-ray for her wrist and her head. The wrist throbbed slightly, but her heart hurt worse, she wasn't sure what to expect when she returned home. She wasn't sure she still had a home. Tears welled in her eyes and she rubbed them with her good hand.

The tech soon arrived and helped her into a wheelchair for the trip to x-ray. She passed Giles and Angel in the hallway. "You feeling okay? We've sent Spike to go get Riley." Angel told her as he ran a gentle hand over her hair.

Buffy looked at Angel a look of genuine surprise on her face. She then turned to Giles, "I didn't hear him correctly, you did not send Spike after Riley? Tell me that neither of you is that crazy?" She asked worriedly.

"I think it will be okay." Angel smiled at her, "Don't worry."

She nodded her head as the tech wheeled her down the hall.

"Do you really think it's going to be okay?" Giles asked raising an eyebrow at Angel.

"I can hope." He told him as he sat down again.

Giles joined him back in the waiting room.

*****

Spike parked the car outside of Buffy's house there was a light still on in the living room, a lamp maybe. He had two ways to handle this. Buffy had shown him by her actions that she loved the idiot no matter what. He took a deep unneeded breath and got out of the car. He went to knock but the door opened first. His eyes met Riley's angry ones.

At this point Spike decided to put on an award winning performance. He lowered his eyes and sighed for Riley's benefit.

"What are you doing here?" Riley asked harshly then noticing Spike's demeanor he asked quickly "Where is Buffy?"

Spike almost smiled at the fear in Riley's voice, he looked up and sadly spoke, "The fight went bad, she's at the hospital."

"Is she? Is she okay?" Riley asked catching his breath. If anything happened to her after the way he had treated her tonight.

"Well, the doctor was still with her when I left. But it looked bad to me. Angel sent me to get you, I told him you probably didn't care enough to show up. But......." Spike was cut off by Riley's fist connecting with his jaw. Spike raised his hand to rub his jaw and glared at Riley.

"Of course I care. I love her. I've got to go to her now. I've got to get Ryan." He said as he hurried down the hallway.

Spike followed him, "You didn't act much like you loved her earlier. I mean will you ever accept that slaying is part of her life. Are you going to support her? She needs that, because if she knows you are here supporting here, she has more reason to come home safely."

Riley stopped at Ryan's room allowing Spike's word to sink in. "You really think she has a better chance if I don't argue about the slaying?

"Yes, I do. And the hospital is no place for a baby. I'll stay with him. You go." Spike told him as he followed him to the baby's room.

"You? You want to take care of my son?" Riley looked at him as if he had three heads.

"Yeah, I want to take care of *Buffy's* son. And you know that I would never hurt him. So, go on now.Your wife needs you." Spike peeked at the sleeping baby before he closed the bedroom door.

Riley still looked unsure, but he grabbed his jacket and keys and left for the hospital. He broke several traffic laws getting there and was startled to find Angel and Giles in the waiting room looking tired but not devastated.

Giles stood when Riley entered the room, "Where is she? Spike said she was in bad shape?" Riley spoke the words rapid fire.

Angel looked at Giles and winked, obviously Spike had a plan. He stood and walked over to Riley placing a hand on his shoulder. He began to speak in low tones, "Riley, I know we aren't friends, but I just want you to know if you ever need anything for Ryan. I'm here."

Riley began to feel lightheaded, this could not be happening. He reapeated his question, "Where is she? I have to see her."

Giles clucked his tongue sympathetically and pointed towards an exam room, "She's in there, Riley."

Riley threw the door open to find Buffy propped up in the bed a bandage on her forehead and a cast on her wrist and hand. She had her eyes closed and appeared to be sleeping. He took a quiet step towards the bed. Relief spread through him. At that moment it seemed prefectly clear to him that nothng mattered except the fact that she was okay. And he promised himself that whatever it took to keep her safe he would do. Even if meant letting her have his blessing on patrol.

He picked up her good hand and held it to his cheek. "Buffy?" He whispered her name softly.

She stirred slightly then opening her hazel eyes through a pain pill induced haze. She looked at him unsurely as if she was trying to decide if he was real or not. "Riley?" Her voice croaked slightly.

"It's me." He told her smiling and pushing the hair from her forehead.

"You came." She replied softly.

"Of course I came." He squeezed her hand in his.

"But you said, when I left tonight." She said fresh pain in her eyes.

"I know what I said. I was wrong. I married a slayer, it's what you do, from now on I'm not going to badger you about it. I want you around for a long time, and you have enough to worry about on patrol without worrying about me. Please promise me you'll be extra careful, that you will even let me go with you sometimes." He smiled down at her relieved that she seemed to be okay.

She frowned when he mentioned patroling but grudgingly agreed. "Sometimes."

"I love you, Buffy." He told her as he kissed her forehead.

"I love you, too. They should be letting me out of here soon." She told him sleepily.

"I'll go check on that." Riley said as he let go of her hand and stood.

****

Riley walked into the waiting room and gave a mock glare to the two men sitting there, "If I ever need anything? You two had me believing she was at death's door." He said with a sigh.

"Are you angry?" Giles asked.

"No, when I thought I was going to lose her it made me see things differently. I guess I owe Spike a thank you too."

"By the way, where is Spike?" Angel asked curiously.

"Umm, he's babysitting." Riley told him with a grin.

"Spike?" Angel and Giles asked in unison.

"Yes. Now, I'm going to find the doctor." Riley told them as he left the waiting room.

"I'm going in to see Buffy for a minute." Angel told Giles as he went to the exam room door.

***

"Buffy?" He asked as he entered the room.

She opened her eyes and smiled at him. "Hey. You don't have to worry about Riley and I. We're okay."

"For now, but did you know he left Ryan with Spike?" Angel raised his eyebrows and laughed.

She joined in his laughter, then she was serious again, "This is all hard for him you know."

"I know, but it's not easy for you either." Angel gave her a light kiss on the top of her head.

"I think we can work it out though, don't you?" She asked looking at him with hopefilled eyes.

He nodded his head, " I think you can. He loves you, I can tell." His voice held a hint of melancholy.

"I know. I'm pretty lucky to have been loved by some special men. It means a lot that you came to celebrate my son's birthday." She said sincerely.

"I wouldn't have missed it for the world. I'm going to let you rest now." He told her as he left the room.

"She okay?" Giles asked.

"She's okay, Giles. She always bounces back."

*******

Spike paced the house waiting for a phone call or something, he wanted to know what was going on! His pacing was interrupted by a cry. A very loud cry he ran to Ryan's room, there he found the little boy standing up in the crib, holding the railing with one chubby hand, and calling loudly for his mama around the fist he had shoved in his mouth. He had tears rolling down his cheeks and stuff that Spike didn't want to think about running out of his nose and slobber all around the fist in his mouth. Not knowing what else to do he picked him up from the crib and patted his back, he noticed a nice warm dampness spreading across the front of his shirt. Looking down he noticed Ryan's pajama bottoms were soaked, his diaper was leaking. It seemed to Spike that every orifice on the child was leaking something.

He turned on the bedroom light and found a stack of those plastic diaper things that Buffy used on a shelf. He picked one up along with some ointment stuff he'd seen her use and started for the living room."There, there, Ryan. It's okay." He continued to pat the baby on the back it seemed to help slightly he had quit crying and was now only sniffling. Spike lie him on the rug and sat down to change the diaper. It dawned on him that he had never changed a diaper before.

Spike unsnapped the pj bottoms from the top and pulled them off, then removed the offensive diaper. He opened the new diaper and placed it under the wiggling baby, then he remembered the ointment, he held Ryan with one hand as he used his teeth to open the tube, ick tasted terrible. He spread the thick white stuff on the baby's bottom and went to secure the tapes. Unfortunately ointment from his hand had made one tape impossible to use. He picked Ryan up and carried him to the kitchen the diaper hanging on one side. He opened several drawers before he found what he was looking for.

Ryan laughed when Spike secured the hanging side of his diaper with the large piece of duct tape. "There you go. You like that, huh?" He asked the smiling baby, "You hungry?" Ryan clapped his hands.Spike found some crackers in the cabinet and handed him two, one for each hand. The baby seemed quite satisfied as Spike returned to the living room with him and sat in the rocker.

**********

Riley insisted on carrying Buffy into the house after they pulled into the driveway. She giggled, "I can walk you know." Giles and Angel followed discreetly behind they were coming along to pick up Spike.

"I know but I'm want to give you some tender loving care." He kissed her cheek as he unlocked the front door. Still carrying Buffy he walked to the living room, Angel and Giles still behind them. The four of them all grinned at the sight that met them there. Spike was asleep in the rocking chair, Ryan sleeping peacefully in his arms an afghan thrown across his little legs.

"This is a kodak moment." Angel said with a smile.

Riley sat Buffy down on the couch. Giles gently touched Spike's shoulder, he opened his eyes and looked around the room. "Be quiet, I just got the little guy back to sleep." Spike told them as Riley lifted his son from Spike's arms.

"I'll put him back in his bed." Riley walked by Buffy who stood and placed a kiss on her son's sleeping face.

"Thanks." She told Spike with a smile.

"It was nothing, I'm good with babies." He boasted.

"Since when?" Angel asked with a smirk.

"Since......" Spike sputtered.

"Not just for the babysitting, Spike." Buffy rolled her eyes at him and put her hand on his arm.

"Oh, well. Umm he just needed some sense talked into him." Spike would have blushed if it had been possible.

"We'd better be going." Angel spoke up as he gave Buffy a hug.

"Come back soon." Buffy told them as she walked the three men to the door.

"We will cause this trip just went so smoothly." Spike quipped as Angel pushed him out the door.

"Isn't your anniversary next week?" He called to her over Angel's shoulder.

"If you don't mind, I think we will celebrate that one alone." Buffy laughed softly as she closed the door.

*********

One week later - The Celebration

Riley came home from work early he had planned a special night out with Buffy. He had made reservations and Joyce had probably already picked up Ryan. He had been looking forward to this every since the disaster that had been last week had happened.

He walked down the hallway calling her name. "In the bathroom." She called to him "I'm getting ready."

"What are you wearing?" He asked pleasantly.

"Well, you see there has been something come up and I have to patrol. I'm so sorry Riley." She said sadly from behind the door.

"Buffy, it's our anniversary. I"m trying to be supportive here, but I've been looking forward tothis." He sat down on the bed frowning.

"I know, I'm really sorry. " Buffy told him as she opened the door and walked into the bedroom.

Riley's mouth dropped open when he saw her, she was completely nude except for a large bow stuck between her breasts and her wrist cast. He took a deep breath and spoke, "Interesting look for patrol."

"You like?" She asked with a seductive smile.

"I like, but what exactly are you patrolling for?" He asked as she leaned against him, her small handsworking the buttons of his shirt.

"This!" She replied as she helped him off with his shirt and reached for the zipper of his jeans. "Oh,look what I found." She giggled as she pulled his jeans along with his boxers down releasing his erection.

He stepped out of his pants and picked her up in his arms. "We have reservations in an hour." He told her as he trailed kisses down her neck and carried her to the bed.

"I know, but I thought we could celebrate here first." She told him as she rolled them over and straddled him.

"I like that idea." he told her as he massaged one rosy nipple in his hand.

"Thought you would." She smiled at him as she lowered herself on to him and found the rhythm that was uniquely their's.

The reservations were soon forgotten as they celebrated over and over again long into the night.



The End




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