by Sweetprincipale

Author's notes: Set during Season Four, basically an episode re-write of Where the Wild Things Are. For the sake of the piece, I played with some of the settings and events, but not the main feature of the plot.

Short, smutty,Spuffy, with hints of deeper emotion. I needed a break from my big pieces.

Smut happens next chapter- don't worry.

Please read and review!

Direct quotes from songs or shows are obviously not mine, but owned by the talented people who created them.

Nothing of Buffy belongs to me, except my sincere admiration. However, this story is all mine.

Part I

Music blared from the Lowell House. Laughing, half-drunk students stumbled in and out through the doors and sprawled across couches and on the patio of the fraternity, most of them kissing or cuddling sloppily, oddly enough, most of them with someone they'd just met that night at the party.

"So this is the college life." Xander looked around appreciatively, draping one arm over Willow and one over Buffy. "I could do this."

"There's the going to class part." Willow reminded him.

"Oh. Darn it, I knew I was forgetting something." He snapped his fingers and pulled an exaggeratedly comical face.

"Still trying to get over the fact that Anya isn't here, huh?" Willow hit the nail on the head.

"Willow- I am trying to act happy and carefree. Play along." Xander said firmly. "And that was totally Anya-like. Brining that up, even though it wasn't exactly the right time. God, I miss her!" Xander chugged a beer, and wiped his mouth.

Tara tried to offer some comfort. "Sh-she just needed to cool off. She hasn't dated in a long time and sh-she's probably not used t-to having spats."

"You think?" Xander asked hopefully.

"I'm sure." Tara smiled and Willow nodded. "Right, Buffy? Buffy?"

"Yeah..." Buffy answered in a dreamy voice. Her eyes, and apparently mind, were not with her companions. They were trained on the tall, wide shouldered man ensconced in a circle of similarly clean cut, straight-spined men. I wonder if Riley's up for another quickie? Or maybe a longie. Is that a term? It should so be a term...

"Did you hear what Tara said?" Willow nudged Buffy. She didn't like when people ignored Tara. Tara was so special, and soft spoken. Smart and powerful, but quietly so. She shouldn't have to shout about it, people should just notice, respect her subtle strength, the same way they respected powers in nature. "Buffy?"

"Totally." Buffy nodded, still keeping her eyes locked on Riley as he laughed with his men. Literally his men, he was the squad leader of a group of demon hunters who all posed as fraternity brothers living in the Lowell House, while really they were Initiative soldiers who worked on a demon hunting operation from under the underground lab built below the fraternity. How sexy is that? My boyfriend, the demon hunter. Okay, so I'm the Slayer and I can whoop his ass, but still- my boyfriend the demon hunter. Yummy.

Willow was about to get mildly piqued at her bestest best friend for ignoring her new best friend, her special sort of new best friend, but Tara giggled and shook her head. Xander jerked his chin towards the object of Buffy's affections.

"Did I mention that at my new job as ice cream salesman is allowing me to give free fudge ripple to my friends for life?" Xander said with a perfectly serious face, addressing Buffy.

"That's nice." She smiled vacantly.

"Oh, oh-hey, Buffy, this might be a good time to mention that someone, so not me, spilled something purply on your new peasant top which I would never borrow without asking. Still love me?" Willow asked with a hopeful, hesitant lilt in her voice.

"Uh-huh." Buffy licked her lips, finally catching Riley's eye. Then she blinked. "Huh? What about my peasant top?"

"Nothing!" Willow yelped guiltily.

"Xander was just talking about Anya." Tara covered quickly.

"Clothes penetrate the haze chocolate does not." Xander made a mumbled mental note.

"Say what?" Buffy demanded.

"I miss Anya. And I'm mad at her. And I'm feeling really glad a certain ex-vengeance demon doesn't have her demon-y powers right now."

Anya walked up to the fraternity with Spike, her drinking and bitching about the "lack of evil and unfairness of love" partner for the last hour. She was unknowingly echoing Xander's thoughts. "I miss those powers."

"I know. I know what you mean." Spike sighed. "Look at this lot. Few weeks ago and any one of them would have been supper." He gestured to the milling men on the porch.

"Any unfaithful frat boy would have been eviscerated and being eaten by crows." Anya mourned.

"These boys look vaguely familiar." Spike squinted at one as they passed in the doorway. "I know these guys from somewhere."

"Initiative soldiers, they live here. Experiments happen in the lab under the house." Anya replied casually, ignoring Spike's sudden furious scowl. "It's where they kept you, put in your chip. Let's have fun!" She smiled brightly. "Oh. You're not wearing a let's have fun face."

"No, I'm wearin' my 'I can't believe you're so stupid' face! What are you doing? You brought me here?" Spike hissed

"Anya? What are you doing?" Xander caught sight of his girlfriend, and his tone was happy and surprised- at first. Until she turned, and the guy beside her turned as well. Spike? Holy crap, Anya was bringing Spike to parties? "You brought him here?" Xander asked in angry incredulousness.

Spike chimed in. "That's what I said! Only I hit the 'here' part."

"Anya, this is crazy. We had a little fight. It just means that we have to work our way through some stuff. It doesn't mean that we rebound with the evil undead.

"Oi!" Spike gave him an offended glare that was no match for Anya's furious one. "And what have we been doing with him anyway?" Xander asked suspiciously.

Spike grinned, and lowered his eyebrows in a mocking appraisal. "Oh, who's the puffed-up manly man? All splotchy and possessive." He sauntered to Xander and looked him over.

"It's not very convincing, is it?" Anya sighed in a woeful voice.

"Yeah. I see now what you said about him earlier." He gave Xander another long look up and down. "No follow-through."

Xander took a step back and called loudly in a falsely cheery voice. "Hey! What a surprise! Hostile Seventeen!" He met Spike's suddenly panicked eyes and ignored the shushing gesture he was giving him. "Can I get you a drink, Hostile Seventeen?"

Spike looked around anxiously and Xander felt a momentary burst of triumph. Until his girlfriend, sounding mildly annoyed, defended the jerk.

"Xander, stop."

Once he realized no one aside from Xander was paying any attention to him, Spike regained his confident, "I don't give a damn" attitude. "Pfft! Well, maybe some fun to be had in the lion's den after all. You two keep scraping. I'll find the liquor." He walked off, whistling leaving the spatting couple.

"Anya. What are you doing with him?" Xander reached for her shoulders, face troubled.

"We didn't have sex, if that's what you mean. That's all I do now, not have sex." She muttered angrily, squirming away.

"You're overreacting. We had a fight. But see, it's okay. It's normal." Xander soothed.

"Yes. The normal part of the ending a relationship right before the vengeance begins."

"Right. No! Vengeance? Vengeance bad, Honey."

"Relax, I'm not gonna do it. And don't call me 'Honey'. I'm just trying to tell you that we have nothing in common besides both of us liking your penis. And now I don't even have that! So I get to say when it's done. And it's done."

"Okay, you know what? You don't deserve to be the one to walk away from this. I've put up with a hell of a lot from you ... much of that in the last minute ... and if anyone gets to be the one to leave, it's me." Xander turned and began to walk away, not believing things could go so wrong, so quickly. Everyone else at the party was having a blast. It was just one step away from a Roman orgy if you looked around. And he'd thought he finally found his girl, his own little snuggle bunny- no, not bunny, she hates bunnies, but his own little snuggle kitty to have on his arm in front of the jocks and preps and everyone. And he was ending it over taking a night off from sex. And other stupid stuff.

"You're leaving me?" Anya sounded wounded and disbelieving.

He sighed. "Yes. I am"

"Where are you going?" Her heart twisted.

"To enjoy the party." Like I ever could, now that you're not happy beside me.

"Well then, then I'm staying too! T-to show you how much I'm not bothered by you having fun! Because I'll be having more fun!" She shouted desperately as they headed off in different directions. Tears were prickling her eyes and her voice sounded strained.

"I'm having fun already!" Xander lied, raising a beer that he quickly snagged.

"Me too! Woo hoo!" She made a miserable face, and both of them abruptly turned away.

"Looks like the goal is open for the rebound." A soft, smug chuckle reached Xander's ear, and he caught a flash of black leather disappearing around the corner.

"That does it!" Xander stormed off, drawing Willow and Tara's eyes.

"Uh-oh. Trouble."

"I'll get Xander, you get Buffy." Willow sighed and left the stairs. Darn. She and Tara had been bonding and she'd just been about to get to the light affectionate touching stage. Stupid Anya-ness.

"Buffy? Buffy?" Tara was fire engine red at interrupting what she reallydidn't feel comfortable seeing. Buffy and Riley were pressed against the door of his room, kissing and groping as both of them simultaneously were trying to go for the doorknob.

"She's busy." Riley finally got the door open, lust absolutely consuming him.

"Kind of important. I'm s-so sorry." Tara insisted weakly.

Buffy couldn't think straight. The closer she got to the door of his room, the more she'd felt her self slipping out of control. It had been happening all day. All she could do was think of him and imagine doing things with him. Now, here, she was desperate. Part of her brain registered that she was never "desperate". She wasn't "horny". She liked love and trust and some deep bond. She had no idea why she was suddenly turning into Playboy Buffy, ready to screw her boyfriend's brains out practically in public, in a house full of people. For a second she was mortified, but then the lusty fiery feeling in the pit of her stomach returned. "Why?" She managed to ask Tara.

"Uh- Xander, Anya, Spike issue." She whispered nervously. Buffy's aura wasn't right. In fact- none of the couples she saw around here tonight had the right auras. They weren't clear. They were murky, the right color, but like looking at it through a frosted lens. "Just c-come check and see if you need to prevent a war."

"Spike's here?Here?" Buffy shook her head.

"Isn't he a-" Riley's lust filled mind was only responding to one thing other than his hot little girlfriend, and that was the threat of HSTs.

"Yeah, but he helps out sometimes." Buffy replied before he could raise the alarm and send commandos swarming all over the place. She didn't want to be distracted, but she felt some odd sort of responsibility for the vampire in question, so she supposed she might have to be. But only for a minute. She could handle Spike super fast and get back to Riley. She shook her head foggily and pushed away form Riley. The farther away she got from him, the better she could focus.

"Well, tell them to deal with it without you." Riley grabbed her elbow.

"Just let me see if he's done something bad enough for me to make him go 'poof'." Buffy tugged free.

"He exists. Isn't that enough?" Riley asked bitterly. He'd never really understood why Buffy didn't just stake that jerk. Or her ex-jerk, for that matter. Ughh. Just the thought of inter-species kissing made him want to hurl.

Buffy was spared answering that fundamentally tricky question, which she was still debating about herself, by the appearance of two of Riley's friends.

"RY! Ry, somethin' bad is happenin' with the house, man!" Forrest and Graham joined Tara in their plea for attention from the couple.

"Huh? What house? What do you -" Screams and the ominous sound of shattered glass erupted from downstairs. "Shit."

"Pretty much." Graham beckoned them down the stairs.

"I'll meet you right back here." Buffy reluctantly let go of Riley's hand.

"Okay, right here." Riley kissed her hungrily.

"Soon." Buffy tried to leave, but had to kiss him once more.

"Very soon." Riley couldn't manage to release her.

An agonized scream broke their passionate departure. "Would you make out later?" Forrest demanded.

"Buffy, just come take a look." Tara pleaded.

Circumstances shouting at them, the pair parted.

"Okay, what drugs did these people take?" Riley watched one group of party-goers apparently getting their minds blown- or possibly something else blown, by just touching a wall. In another room, there were ten people covered in cuts and it looked like a glass bottle hadn't just shattered, it had been purposely exploded. Most disturbing, at least to him, was that there was a sobbing girl sitting outside the coat closet holding scissors and piles of her own hair, rocking and screaming she was bad.

"It's not a drug, it's affecting too many people to be a drug, and in too many different ways." Graham said.

"It's the house." Forrest looked around nervously. People were fleeing the house at this point, screaming, crying, jibbering. "It's like the fireplace."

"What about the fireplace?" Riley demanded.

"This morning it blew up, for no reason. Like- backdraft. Mason was building the fire for an hour an' nothing happened, man. Then- boom! Dante's Inferno. Like a flamethrower, and Mason looked like a human torch. But in a few minutes, it was done, and all he's missing are his eyebrows. It was like- the fire wasn't real. But it was."

"Okay, now I'm wondering what you're taking. Why didn't I know about this? Are you sure this happened?" Riley looked skeptical.

"You and Buffy were busy. Reeeally busy at the time." Graham smirked. Riley blushed.

"Yeah, don't you two ever come up for air?" Forrest sounded annoyed.

Riley ignored him. "If it's the house, then the lab- oh God, the lab could be compromised too!" Exchanging a stricken look, the three headed to one of the lab's entrances. It didn't respond.

"Too many people to use any of the downstairs ones. Gonna have to cut to the back way." Riley muttered. "C'mon. Make this quick. Forrest- you stay here. Get the civilians out."

"Does Buffy count?" He asked bitterly.

"You know she's not exactly a civilian. If she can help, let her."

"Might not be an issue. This place is the sinking ship- and there go the rats." Forrest jerked his head towards people as they streamed from the doors.

"I can't help it if he can't take a joke!" Spike snarled at Xander. Buffy stood between them, hands outstretched.

"You joked about my girlfriend, so it's not a joke!" Xander spat back.

"Anya, you're not helping." Willow hissed as Anya sat back complacently and watched the verbal jousting.

"I don't want to. Xander's defending my honor. It means he loves me. We're back together!"

"Well, yippee for you, do you think you can calm down your little pit bull now?" Spike demanded. "You know it's not a fair fight. I can't punch him." He pouted slightly.

"So? When have you ever played fair?"

"I'm evil! I don't play fair! It's not an evil thing to do!" Spike lunged past Buffy, only to get a double whammy, one from her iron fist in his ribs, and one from his chip for having a violent impulse. "I bleedin' hate this, I fuckin' do..."

"Language!" Tara winced. Spike looked at her.

"Is she serious?" He asked Buffy, who shrugged and hauled him up.

"Look, you two obviously can't be in the same room right now."

"I'm not leavin'. Free booze and nibbles." Spike crossed his arms and looked defiantly at the Slayer, the object of his annoyance.

"I was here first!" Xander countered.

"Speaking of staying here, did anyone else notice that we're the onlyones around?" Willow asked suddenly.

The sextet paused and looked around. The house did seem eerily empty suddenly. "Th-there was some problem, wasn't there? Riley had to run?" Tara recalled.

Buffy looked at her blankly for a second, lust sweeping her in a wave when she thought of him. "Oh. Yeah, that's right." The wave left and she was herself again. "We better find out what's going on."

"Split up?" Xander asked.

"I guess so. Just look around, see if they all moved downstairs or upstairs or something." Buffy shrugged.

"You lot carry on. I'm headin' back to the bar." Spike slouched off, only to find himself tugged back by Buffy.

"Oh no. You see trouble, and you'll join it. Or make it worse. You're not leaving my sight." Buffy put her hands on her hips.

"Again, for your California girl intelligence- I'm evil! Trouble calls to me, Slayer."

"Well, my stake is gonna call you to that big dust pile in the sky if you don't just shut up and come with me." Buffy hissed urgently, fingers wrapping around the lapel of his coat.

With a groan, Spike allowed himself to be pulled in one direction, still protesting. Buffy silenced him with a sharp glare. "Do you want me to just hand you over to these guys? 'Cause I'm starting to be okay with that. I don't know what experiments they're working on now, but maybe they've made a chip that causes headaches when you open your mouth."

Spike swallowed down most of his angry retort. The bint had a point. "You're a real bitch, Slayer."

"Yeah, well, you're an ass. Now shut up and concentrate. Something doesn't feel right about this- eeep!" Buffy gasped and leapt in the air as a huge green vine suddenly shot across the floor.

"That's new." Spike looked at it wide eyed.

"Oh, God. Where's Riley?" Buffy gasped. "Riley!" She bellowed. No answer. "Oh God, Riley?" And she ran, heading up the stairs.

With a sigh, Spike looked longingly towards the nearest exit- and then for some reasons he wasn't really sure about, he followed her.Maybe he'll have spontaneously combusted. Yeah. That'd be worth seein'.

"We've been paging you, Finn! All of you!" A uniformed man in a headset greeted Riley, Forrest, and Graham as they entered the Initiative's lab through an underground entrance just south of Lowell House.

"Signals must be jammed." Forrest pulled his pager out and inspected it. "Somethin' freaky is goin' on upstairs."

"The house entrances wouldn't work." Riley looked skyward. "We couldn't get down here from inside, we had to go to the emergency entrance."

"So what's the problem?" Graham also looked skyward. In a second all the techs and soldiers were doing the same. The ceiling, which would be the foundation of Lowell House seemed to be trembling slightly. "We can't have an earthquake in just the house. Can we?"

A tech came up to them, holding out papers and looking worried. "You've got a disembodied presence in the house."

"A ghost? Oh, come on." Forrest scoffed.

"What, vampires can be real but not ghosts?" Riley elbowed him and returned his attention to the lab tech. "Go on. What do we do with it?"

"We're working on that. Uh- we're not sure how you contain a manifestation like that. It has no corporeal presence."

"The hell it doesn't. It's shaking the ceiling." The uniformed soldier who'd been paging Riley pointed up with the muzzle of his gun.

"It's getting stronger. Readings are going off the chart." The lab technician explained nervously.

"Well, crunch some numbers or something. Tell us what we do." Riley demanded.

"We need you down here. Whatever's screwing up upstairs is starting to screw up down here. Look." The soldier pointed to a row of lit containment cages where demons were obviously agitated, pacing, roaring, and running into the walls and invisible "bars" of their cells, not seeming to feel the shocks. "You know how some animals can sense a natural disaster coming?"

"These guys sense an unnatural one." Graham breathed, expression grave.

"If these containment cells blow..."

"Damn." Forrest shook his head.

"Suit up. We're locking down." Riley ordered grimly.

"Is the house secured?" The lab tech asked.

"No." Riley realized belatedly. He'd gotten so caught up in the mission, he'd forgotten about any straggling civilians upstairs. Buffy was upstairs. "I gotta get up there!"

"Negative, Finn. Lock down procedure first. We're waiting for some of the others to answer their pages, but obviously, if the signal's jammed inside the house, and we're starting to feel the affects down here, too, we'll have to wait until they check in. Then you can go."

With a grunt, Riley nodded and looked at the ceiling one more time. It had stopped trembling for the second. Lots of people had already left. She's probably gotten everyone out. Nothing to worry about. No one's probably even in there anymore.

"You knocked. No one's in there, we can go." Willow anxiously plucked at Tara's sleeve.

"No..." Tara tilted her head. "Someone's in there..." She sensed a presence. In distress, faint, something beckoned her.

"Tara, no. No one answered." Willow watched her friend slowly turn the knob of the upstairs bathroom. It opened. "See, not locked? No one there, let's go."

"Wait. If no one's in here- what's splashing?"

Willow followed Tara's gaze and saw water sloshing over the floor of an antique looking bathtub. Not the bath of a house full of commandos. "Oh man. Something icky's gonna be behind the shower curtain. Dammit. It's always behind the shower curtain. Did I tell you I can't watch the shower scene inPsycho? I saw part of it once when I was thirteen and I had to take baths instead of showers for three years after." Willow rambled nervously.

Tara gulped and swallowed hard. "We'll be okay. What if- someone needs help?"

"Right. Help. We do that. We're Scoobies." Willow said, taking a cautious but determined step forward.

"I'm a Scoobie?" Tara looked shocked and pleased.

"Well, yeah. I mean, if you wanna be." They exchanged a brief, shy smile.

"Th-thanks." Mustering up her courage, Tara strode to the tub, and with a nod, both girls pulled back the curtain. Tara gasped and Willow screamed. In the tub, a teenage boy was struggling under the water, as if held under by invisible hands. "Oh my God!"

"Grab his head!" Willow dropped to her knees and yanked on the boy's pale skinned, dark haired form- only to find her hands going right through him.

Tara's eyes were wide and scared. "Uh-oh?" was all she could manage to say.

"Ghosts?" Willow gasped, equally scared, hands still groping under water, although the tub was now empty. "I'm not so big on the ghosts. You can't hit them with holy water or stakes." She gasped out nervously.

Just then, the lights flickered and died, and the splashing began again, this time the water was blue, and so was the boy under it, the pale ice blue of suffocation. This time both girls screeched as they ran from the room.

"Willow!" Xander stopped in his circuit of the downstairs, and Anya bumped into him.

" And Tara. Upstairs!" Anya agreed and they both began to run. However, they didn't get far. An unseen force, an unaccountable wind, slammed them back into the wall of the downstairs entryway, and another gust sent them reeling backwards, outside. The doors slammed shut behind them, and refused to open.

"That was Willow!" Buffy stopped her search for Riley when she heard the screams.

"That's not good. She doesn't scare as easy as some." Spike said casually, lighting a cigarette. Buffy dashed it from his hand. "Oi!"

"Put that out and help me find her!"

"Oh, why should I bother?" Spike groused angrily. "What's in it for me, that's what I'd like to know. I can't even have a smoke, you won't let me get at the bar..."

"You don't get killed and we keep you safe when the Initiative feels like playing Find the Spike." Buffy growled.

"Got a point. Let's go save the witches." Spike said with false enthusiasm.

That was easier said than done. "Whoa." Buffy turned the corner in the direction of the screams.

"Your boy's been muckin' about with the Miracle Gro, hasn't he? Spike slowly looked over the hallway, now covered with a fine webbing of vines.

"That- wasn't here five minutes ago." Buffy continued to stare.

"An' if we don't move along, we might not be here either." Spike looked worriedly at the ceiling, where he could actually see the vines slowly coiling and growing before his eyes.

"You're not afraid of some weeds, are you?" Buffy challenged, striding purposefully forward.

"No." Spike spat heatedly and he joined her, just as the house began to shake. Windows rattled, the floor swayed, and he found the Slayer flung backwards into him, knocking them both to the ground. "Not afraid of anything." He lied easily with his usual bravado. "But I can't say I love what they've done with the place."

Buffy hastily picked herself up, suddenly very aware that she was alone with Spike, sprawled across him, and that only a couple months ago she'd sat in his lap, making out with him and planning a wedding while under a spell. No lap-sitting. Lap-sitting bad- unless it's Riley's lap. Oh, no. Riley! Willow. Both of them are probably still in the house and they need me. "We have to get through here."

When they tried again, the house shook more violently, and barbed vines snaked rapidly towards them. With a cry of dismay, Buffy halted, and Spike shook his head.

"We need some sort of weapon if we're gonna get through these creepy crawlies. Big machete or some such." Spike raked his fingers through his slicked back platinum hair. "Your boy toy got anything like that stashed in his room?"

Buffy thought. "No. But he has something else we could use." His "ray gun" as she couldn't help but think of it, would be in there. They could blast their way through any offending plant life.

"Well, let's go get it an' get the hell out of here." There was a sudden hard shake inside the house, and the lights flickered. Icy wind seemed to shove the pair forcefully back down the hallway, towards Riley's room. "Oi! Listen! Whatever you are, I'm evil, too. We're on the same soddin' team, so take it easy!" Spike shouted towards the ceiling.

"Why can't I ever go to normal parties?" Buffy muttered and ignored Spike as he glared menacingly around.

"It's what you get for being the Slayer."

"Like I could help that." Buffy shoved her way down the hall, which was becoming more and more like a wind tunnel, a dark, spooky one.

"Well, then it's what you get for hanging out with Commando Boy." Spike followed in her wake, batting at grabby vines, sometimes smacking them from himself, sometimes from her. When he realized he was unconsciously helping the bitch he loathed, he stopped, and had the satisfaction of watching a branch smack her right on the head. "Sorry 'bout that." He suppressed a chuckle.

"Right, Spike. And who should I hang out with, undead losers like you?" Buffy huffed, rubbing her head.

"Be a damn sight more entertaining." Spike mumbled. "Except for the part where you're the most self-righteous, tight-ass, little bint in the whole of California. Don't think I could stand to hang out with you."

"Shut up, Spike." Buffy shook her head with a sigh. "Like I'd be able to spend more than three hours with you without staking you and dancing in whatever I vacuum up."

"Aww, you crush my poor little unbeatin' heart, Slayer." Spike pouted and put both hands over his chest dramatically. This left him unguarded and he got swatted with two barbed vines at once. "Oww! Bloody hell!"

"That's what you get for acting like a jerk." Buffy smiled, finally reaching the door to Riley's room.

"Aren't you s'posed to be Miss Goody Two Shoes? Where's the compassion?" Spike asked in an injured voice.

"I don't know Spike, maybe it got stuck in my 'self-righteous tight ass'." Buffy shouldered open the door, and Spike followed her inside.

"I really, really don't like this." Tara followed Willow inside another room, and promptly back out. The specters were becoming more active. Wind had picked up, lights had gone out, and the house continued to tremble.

"At least there are no more dead people. I think." Willow whispered hoarsely. "Okay- this is the hall where Riley's room is. You said they were going to meet back there?"

"Yeah. Uh- for- for snuggles." Tara blushed.

"Well, smoochies and snuggles are called on account of demonic house stuff." Willow said firmly." I don't care if they want to be alone, right now, that's the place where I bet she'll be, and I'm waiting with her if she waits for Riley."

"You two are such good friends." Tara's voice sounded mildly wistful.

"The best. B-but hey- there's no limit to the number of best friends a girl can have, right?" Willow offered. Tara grinned, and they clasped hands, almost automatically, pushing their way against the internal wind that seemed now to be coming from Riley's room. The closer they got the stronger it seemed.

"I can hear something. Arguing?" Tara cocked her head.

"Oh thank God. Spike and Buffy. No one else would find time to argue in a crisis but them." Willow was breathless with relief. "Buffy! BUFFY! Can you hear me?"

Buffy found it hard to focus when she was in the room. Spike continued to pull at the door, and she tried to find Riley's gun. But her hands and mind kept wandering. "Is it hot in here?" She asked.

"I'm dead. I don't do temperature." Spike snarled, and kicked at the door, leaving a heavy black streak from the heel of his boot, but nothing more. "Sod it."

"What was I looking for?" Buffy found herself crouching by the side of the bed, pulling Riley's commando gear from the duffle under the bed where he kept it.

"Oh for God, sake, Slayer! A gun! Do you need my help to find it? You do know what a gun looks like don't you? Big, blunt on one end, pointy at the other, got a little trigger under neath, an' a little hole at the top?"

Buffy stared at him, open-mouthed. "That's disgusting."

"What?" Spike demanded, arching his dark brows in confusion.

"That- that- sounds like- other things." She mumbled, blushing and internally cursing. Since when did she stoop to Spike's level of potty brain?

"Bloody hell, I'm s'posed to have my mind in the gutter, not you." Spike crashed to his knees beside her. "Here. Lemme look." And look he did. At her. Suddenly aware that they were all close an' cozy-like next to commando boy's regulation made bed. "Uh. Now, which thing did you say you wanted?" She smells- like heat. Like light. Shiny, pretty pout an' big green eyes lookin' at me. Wait, why is she lookin' at me? Why am I lookin' at her?

"Buffy! BUFFY! Can you hear me?"

"It's your mates." Spike felt oddly relieved. And disappointed. He shook his head to clear it.

"Willow! We're in here! We can't get the door open, we're going to blast it open in a minute! Don't get too close!"

"Buffy! Tara and I can open it! We've actually been working on a spell to open doors! Hang on a minute!" Willow shouted back, voice almost lost in the wind.

"Willow- doing a spell in here might not be so good. Something has to feed a manifestation like this- and- and since everyone left, it's getting nastier. It's hungrier." Tara said urgently.

"But we have to try. Buffy's in there. Oh, geez, Buffy's in there with Spike!" Willow shouted towards the door again. "Buffy, is Riley in there, too?"

"No! Just me and the Toothless Wonder."

"Hey! Hey, do I go around insulting you when you're down?" Spike cried in an injured tone.

"Yes. Regularly." Buffy glared at him.

"Well... yeah, but I'm the bad guy. It's what I do."

"I guess I'm not feeling -too -good- right now!" Buffy grunted and finally managed to drag the blaster from the duffle bag. "Will, if your spell doesn't work, we've got something that'll just take the door down!" Buffy stood and hollered through the door.

"Good! Either way, we're going to get you out." Willow felt slightly more cheerful. They could get out, they would go find Giles, and he would know what the heck they were supposed to do with a possessed fraternity. Because he was just cool like that.

Whatever entity that was in control of the house, however, didn't want the couple trapped in the bedroom to be freed. There was an uptick in the wind, and instead of it blowing, it now sounded like moaning, growling. Definitely human- or former human- pained and angry.

"Make with the spell, Red! That isn't a good sound!" Spike shouted, joining Buffy by the door.

"Working on it!" Willow grabbed Tara's hand. "Portals, gates, and doorways, we beseech-"

That was as far as she got. Apparently one portal, gate, or doorway was paying attention and decided to open. Willow and Tara found themselves sucked backwards through the glass windows on the second floor of Lowell House, flying towards the ground with a scream and crystalline shower of shards.

"Willow! Wills!" Buffy heard the shrieks and leveled her blaster, pulling the safety from the trigger and hearing the noise of the weapon powering up. She cast a frantic look at Spike, who looked, for one of the few times in their acquaintance, genuinely upset. "Oh my God, something must've-"

That was as far as Buffy got in her speech. The wind seemed to invade the room and the bottom dropped out of the world with a stomach turning whirl of darkness.

"Are we alive?" Willow lay on the damp grass and squeezed her eyes shut tightly, afraid to open them.

"You are. Xander's less alive than you. He saw you hit the ground and assumed you were dead. He screamed like a girl and fainted." Anya's voice sounded strangely matter-of-fact and mildly perturbed. "Would he faint, do you think, if I got hurled out of a window?"

"Yes, Anya, I think so." Willow struggled up, eyes opening. "And after all, I am his best friend."

"How- how did we survive that?" Tara asked shakily, also sitting up, feeling herself all over for broken bones and abrasions and finding none.

"Oh, you'd be surprised. We got thrown out too, halfway across the lawn. Not even whiplash. Sometimes manifestations can do things that are real enough- but don't actually have the power to hurt you."

"Just scare the beejus out of you." Xander, now awake, came over and hugged Willow until her ribs squeaked a warning.

"Well, good, we're all okay. Scared and wigged out, but okay." Willow wheezed out. "Did- did Spike and Buffy make it out?"

Anya and Xander exchanged and look and shook their heads. "We tried to go back in, but the doors seem to have gone "exit only". And now we've got another little problem." Xander pointed to the house.

Tara and Willow stared for a minute, blinking. "That can't be good." Willow whispered, eyes stretching wide in horror.

Lowell House was shrouded in a thick black haze. When Tara stretched out her hand towards it, it moved toward her rapidly and halted before engulfing her. Tara hastily dropped her hand.

"It's the big cosmic unwelcome mat." Xander frowned grimly. "Whatever's ruling the roost doesn't want to be disturbed."

"But- but we have to disturb it! Buffy's trapped in Riley's bedroom with Spike in a house full of weird super plants and ghost things!"

"Don't forget the orgasm wall and the multiple sexual tension inducing hot spots." Anya added helpfully. The other three stared at her. "What? If you're going to deal with something, you should know what you're dealing with. Whatever is in there doesn't want to be disturbed and likes sex. And pain and fear. It's unhappy. And hungry. We should go away from it." She nodded brightly.

"We certainly aren't getting into it, want to or not." Willow bit her lip.

"G-Man?" Xander asked no one in particular.

"Yeah. We'll have to go get him from the Espresso Pump. He has some 'adult' thing to do tonight, remember?" Willow cast a desperate look at the house. "M-maybe I could try the doorway spell again?"

"No. I don't think you should." Tara pointed to the cloud of mist as it thickened, leaving only the peaked roof of the building visible.

"Buffy's going to kill me. If she isn't dead." Willow moaned, and the foursome headed to the Espresso Pump.

When she opened her eyes, all she could see was blackness. "Where am I?" She whispered faintly, just to make some noise in the lonely, suffocating, impenetrable darkness.

Which became much less lonely and dark. A snap and hiss of a lighter and small pinprick of red-orange appeared beside her. Very close beside her. "We are still in Captain Cardboard's room, Slayer. The question is- where the bloody hell is the room?"

Buffy scrambled up and went to put some distance between her and Spike once she realized she wasn't alone, and they were sprawled on the bed. She swung her legs over and yelped- both because Spike's hands suddenly yanked her backwards onto the bed- and because her feet had made contact with nothing. No floor. No rug. Nothing. "Wh-what?" She gasped, gesturing to the blackness and the single blue oasis of the room- the bed they seemed to be trapped on.

"You wanna watch yourself. We seem to be out of floor just now." Spike made sure his own feet were casually kicked up on the bed, thick boots crossed at the ankles.

"What?" Buffy demanded again, peering over the edge into nothingness.

"You know that phrase, 'when one door opens, another closes'?" Spike puffed a long drag on his glowing cigarette. Buffy nodded. Spike gestured into the distance, vast blackness and nothing recognizable. They were in the room- but they weren't. Spike felt the girl shiver once, and he chuckled, bleak and bitterly."Red an' her little wicca pal might've opened a door somewhere- but they closed us in here real good."

To be continued...