A/N - Caveat to diehard Spuffy fans, there are mentions of Bangel (I am personally not a fan, but for Buffy's thinking process, I had to include it). There isn't a whole lot of Spike/Buffy interaction, but don't worry, it's coming soon! Let me know what you guys think. So far, I've had positive reviews, and I wanted to thank you guys for liking this story. I'm sorry I don't update as often as I should, but I'm working on a new project of mine (and yes it's a Spuffy story). Without further ado, let the reading commence!

Chapter 5: Hiding

The Scoobies had all gathered in the dank basement that was Xander's bedroom. Buffy had paced around the room not saying anything as she waited for each member to arrive. Once everyone was there, she was bombarded by people talking.

"Buffy, where have you been? You never came back to the dorms," Willow started.

"Yeah, Buff. We thought something nasty got you on your way home," Xander added.

"You know, you are taking my precious orgasm time away. Why did we have to meet here?" Anya wined.

"Stop!" Buffy held up her hand as she spoke, making everyone pause for a moment. "Okay yes, something did get me," she began. "After dropping off Spike, I woke up in a lab." Everyone's eyes widened at that, including Spike's. The Slayer turned her attention to the vampire, "The same one you were brought to. They're looking for you. And now, they're looking for me too."

"Are you saying that the commandos are collecting humans as well?" Giles spoke for the first time since he arrived.

"No, just demons. They thought I was a demon too apparently, and they think that I'm working with Spike."

"Oi! I would never work with a bint like you…oh, except that one time. But there were circumstances—"

"Shut up, Spike," Buffy cut him off. "It's called the Initiative, and it's located right underneath the university. Students and teachers work there." She turned to the red head. "Professor Walsh is one of the scientists there." After the witch gasped, the Slayer continued, "And Riley is a commando. And he knows about me now, and Spike."

"He knows that you're—oh! He knows about spell?" Willow staged whispered.

"I had to tell him. He recognized Spike as being the vampire that escaped and he asked about the engagement. I couldn't lie to him anymore, but it's not like he believed me anyways."

"Does this Professor Walsh know that you are the Slayer?" Giles prodded.

"Yeah. She said she did all these tests on me to try and find out what I was, but everything said I was human. She asked me what I was, and I told her I was the Slayer. She didn't really believe me either."

"Well, it may work in our favor that she does not believe in your statement, but that does not exclude you from becoming a target again, especially if you are their only connection to Spike. In the meantime, I suggest that you keep a low profile, and if your theory about other teachers and students working for the Initiative is correct, then I would recommend that you do not attend your lectures. At least for a few days."

"That's why I came straight here. I couldn't go back to the dorms and I figured they could find my mom's house if they're military. I didn't think that anyone would look here to find me," Buffy explained.

"It very well may be in your best interest that you stay here then," Giles concluded.

"What? No! This isn't a hotel, and you've already dumped Spike on poor Xander. And what about us? We can't have romantic evenings with Spike here, let alone Buffy—"

"Ahn, calm down. It's okay. The Buff is welcome here as long as she needs protection. And it's only for a few days, right?" Xander looked to his friends.

"Of course. I don't want to intrude any more than I have to. And thanks, Xan," Buffy smiled.

"Good, then that's settled. Now, we must come up with some sort of plan. By both yours and Spike's accounts, this Initiative does not appear to be purely good in nature. Surely, a military interest in demons could have disastrous effects and they must be incapacitated. Buffy, did you happen to discover the Initiative's goals?"

"Walsh implied that she wanted to harness the power of demons, but I kinda got the feeling that there was more. Something just feels off about this," Buffy began pacing again as she thought.

"As it may be, we can only hope that this woman has no bigger plan. It will prove to be very difficult to learn of their plans with you in hiding. We will have to find a new way to approach this," Giles was trying to think of something as well.

"Will, do you think that you could use your hacking skills to break into Professor Walsh's personal computer? She could have things about the Initiative on there," Buffy tried.

"Maybe? I can try, but it's going to take some time," Willow wasn't sure of herself.

"Well that's better than nothing. But even if we figure out what she's hiding, how are we going to stop her and the Initiative? These guys are human, and I can't kill them. And this place is huge, with people and demons all over the place. I mean, how do we stop a government organization?" Buffy seemed to have found something that she could not truly fight.

"Our best course of action as it appears is to gather any information we can before we can come up with a formidable plan. Willow, you must find out all that you can before we proceed," Giles had put the pressure on the witch.

Willow was scared and nervous, but despite her internal woes, she nodded at Giles, "Count on it. Tech-y Willow is on a mission. I should probably go and start on that. No telling how long it might take me to get in."

"Very well. Check in with me tomorrow?" Giles asked.

"I'm free in the afternoon, so I'll stop by then," the red head waved her goodbyes before she parted.

An awkward silence descended the room after the witch left.

"So Buffy, how did you escape?" Xander broke the quiet.

"I found this vent and followed it to this big room that connected to some caves in the forest," the Slayer admitted.

"Is the Initiative that big?" Xander questioned.

"It's massive. Who knows what else is going on in that place, other than what I saw?" Buffy contemplated.

"Bloody torture if you ask me," the vampire muttered not so under his breath.

"Shut up, Spike," Xander beat his blonde friend to the insult.

"Anyways, it's rather late and I should be heading home now," the former librarian announced. "And not stay here any longer than I have to," he muttered to himself. A knowing glance towards the bleached blonde told the watcher that the vampire had clearly heard what he had said.

After the watcher departed, Xander insisted on driving Anya home. With the frustration the ex-demon was throwing about the room, there was little speculation as to what she was upset about. Xander threw out a 'make yourself at home' to Buffy before following his sexually pent-up girlfriend up the stairs. The Slayer knew that Xander probably wouldn't be home for another hour or so.

An uncomfortable silence came upon the room left with only the Slayer and vampire. Buffy looked around her, looking for something to keep her focus. She meandered around Xander's unkempt room, realizing a flaw in her new hiding plan. By not going to the dorms or to her mom's house, Buffy had no clothes or anything but what she had on her person, which wasn't anything but her clothes. She then noticed that the stake that she had tucked in her jacket pocket was missing. The Initiative scientists must have taken it while she was passed out. They couldn't allow a demon to carry weapons, now could they?

Back to the not-having-any-clothes thing, Buffy determined that her best hope was to call Willow and have her drop off some of her things after class tomorrow. If she was staying here as long as she expected, and she really didn't want to, she would need her own things.

Not that she didn't love Xander or anything, but the thought of using his shampoo or sleeping on any surface of his room did not sit well with the Slayer. It did not help that with her crashing at Xander's, she would also be forced to spend more time with the bleached blonde vampire that she had been trying to avoid the past two weeks.

Willow had said that her feelings should have dissipated soon after the spell, but there wasn't too much dissipation going on as of yet. Sure, Buffy could admire Spike the way any woman would admire a sexy man with chiseled cheekbones and washboard abs. And I did not just think of Spike as sexy, Buffy tried to backpedal in her own mind.

Are you crazy? Do you not remember feeling those taut abs beneath your fingertips not so long ago? Buffy's inner monologue turned into a dialogue between the proverbial angel and devil on her shoulders. And that was definitely the devil part talking.

That was a spell. You don't feel anything for this vampire. Nothing even remotely physical as well, the angel sounded.

You sure? Because some vampire got you all hot and bothered, and it wasn't Angel, the devil chimed.

You only want Spike because you can't have Angel. Angel loves you. Spike doesn't.

If you still have some feelings for Spike, what's to say he doesn't feel the same way about you? Maybe he doesn't love you. It doesn't mean he can't though.

Spike doesn't have a soul. He can't love, he isn't capable of it.

Demons can love. You just don't want to believe that Angel couldn't without the soul.

That wasn't him, that was Angelus.

And you still loved him then, even without the soul.

Buffy put the brake to her thinking. Her mind was entering territory she thought she left long ago. Angel left. He moved-to-another-town left, but there was always that inkling that they were never quite done. He wanted a normal life for her, but where did he get the idea that he could make decisions for her own life?

Parker never would have worked out, she realized. Even if he hadn't been skeeze that used girls, she knew that she could never have a relationship with him. Angel had left her broken and shattered, and now Buffy was trying too hard to find a guy that could pick up the pieces and put them back together. Parker sure as hell wouldn't have been able to do that.

And then there was Riley. Sweet, normal Riley. He was a caring, good-natured guy who, for all intents and purposes, seemed like Buffy's ticket into a normal life. He was supposed to be the guy that didn't see her as the Slayer, but as the quirky co-ed in the Psychology 101 class that he TA-ed in.

Buffy had almost thought that Riley would even believe the 'betrothed' thing and get over it. But now, he knew the truth about her. She had told him about the spell, and he dismissed her like she didn't know what she was talking about. Even then, Buffy could see that had they made things work out, in the long run, he would have a difficult time in having the Slayer for a girlfriend. And while the whole Riley-being-a-soldier-for-a-demon-catching-operation made it seem like they were that much easier matched for each other, Buffy could see how they would clash in the future. Riley probably relied on orders and only saw that all demons were evil, and that the only good demon was a dead demon. Or worse, what if he agreed with all the testing and experimentation that went on in the Initiative, and wanted to harness demon power for government use? Buffy knew that demons were evil, but in rare circumstances, there were some that weren't.

Angel wasn't evil—at least with the soul he wasn't. He wasn't your regular run-of-the-mill vampire, and Buffy had a feeling that Riley wouldn't have understood something like that. And then there was Oz. While a werewolf didn't really seem like a 'demon' in the way Buffy had experienced them, she knew that the Initiative wouldn't pass the chance to study one. Technically a human, but during three full moon nights, a beast with no self control. Buffy shivered to think about what the Initiative would do to try and use a werewolf to their benefit.

All this deep thinking was only confusing the Slayer more, not to mention giving her a headache. Thankfully, Xander's entrance into the basement brought Buffy out of her reverie just in time.

After figuring in out the sleeping arrangements—Buffy had insisted on sleeping on the floor for fear of sleeping in the bed that her friend and Anya shared so often—Xander went to find blankets to make his new guest comfortable. While Xander got her 'bed' ready, Buffy called Willow to ask if she could bring over a bag with her things before she went over to Giles. The witch had admitted to already thinking ahead and had packed a bag with some of her things. The red head agreed to swing by, and they said their goodnights before hanging up the phone.

Buffy tried to settle underneath the blankets, but found that sleep would almost be impossible that night. She was uncomfortable in her clothes, as she was still wearing the dress she had planned to wear on her date with Riley the night before, only to be kidnapped by him later. To add to her discomfort, her Slayer senses were going wild from being not three feet away from a deadly vampire, neutered as he was, but a vampire nonetheless. And to top off her night, Xander snored like an elephant hollered when it saw a mouse. Buffy tried her breathing exercises to relax herself, but it seemed like forever until she finally fell asleep.