by Spikesdeb

Chapter 2

London – two days later 

“I will, Spike.  I promise.  I've never been in better shape – hell, you oversaw most of my training and I promise I haven’t slacked off since I’ve been over here.  We both know I'm ready – and it'll just be a couple of days at most.  Did you speak to W?” 

“I did.  She's let me see the mission parameters.  It looks pretty straightforward, but I'm not sure I like the idea of you playing Mata Hari to some jumped-up fish fancier.” 

“He's a marine biologist, Spike.  He doesn't fancy fish, he...well...breeds them… I hope.  Thing is, he's getting a little overambitious with his gene pool. What did you think of G’s report?” 

“Moderately shudder-worthy, pet.  I mean, it sounds like the Creature from the Black Lagoon.”  His voice became serious, “You know you can’t trust anyone, right?  It can be tricky on a solo mission.” 

“Will you stop fussing!  I'm a big girl, Spike.  I know you're worried but I’m not going to do anything stupid.  Anyway it’s time you knew what I go through while you’re working away.” 

Spike snorted.  “You've been talking to W, haven’t you?  Bloody women and their nattering.” 

Buffy smiled fondly.  She knew her husband was just worried about her but she was capable of taking care of herself.  And whilst she was more than a little unsettled by the mission, she'd do her duty; collect her stripes and head on home for some heavy-duty loving. 

“Spike honey, I'll be home by Wednesday at the latest.  It's easy – just get on the submarine, make mooneyes at Nautilust and while he's dazzled by my beauty, retrieve the top-secret file he stole from the research lab.  Easy as pie.  Should take no more than eight hours, tops!” 

Spike laughed out loud, then.  “Pretty sure of your appeal, love, aren't you?” 

Buffy grinned, the amusement coming over in the tone of her voice.  “Hell yeah!  I am Buffy Blond – one look at me and strong men crumble to their knees and swear undying love.” 

Spike was silent for a moment, suddenly serious as he thought on his first adventure with the petite force of nature on the other end of the phone. 

“That I did, pet.  That I did.” 

+ + + + + + 

Somewhere in the Tropics  

Buffy ran through her equipment check one final time.  She'd been issued with the minimum as the mission was categorized as being low risk.  She had standard communication equipment: slim pen comcam, tracking device and emergency transmitter, plus the full complement of weapons, some standard, some not so much.  G's detailed instructions to the London unit had been meticulous and they’d miniaturised where possible so that everything fitted into a small holdall, the only luggage that she was allowed to take on board the submarine.  Spike insisted she was armed so G had ordered the smallest gun he could to ensure it fit in her purse; the PT145 was a classic compact with some slight G-centric amendments.  And if it was discovered, she could easily pass it off as being for personal protection.  She had the usual multi-function watch, but styled for a female, and to complete her arsenal some state-of-the-art gadgets that would allow her to download the stolen file and leave a trail of virus-riddled software in its place.  Factor in the nifty breathing apparatus that would allow her to escape from the submarine, and she was packing quite a punch. 

So – equipment: check.  Tighter than skin harlot dress – check.  Hideous false eyelashes that made her look like she was half asleep: check.  Shaky legs and racing heartbeat: check.  Yeah, she was as good to go as she’d ever be.   

"Mrs Blond?  Are you ready?  The copter’s scheduled to deliver the girls at 1800 hours so we have to leave in the next ten minutes to get you on board.  I'll be in the hangar." 

Buffy nodded her assent and wondered if she had time to phone Spike.  Probably not.  He'd only be fretting anyway.  Snapping her diamanté purse shut on her shiny new gun, Buffy gathered her weekend bag and fake fur coat and headed out to the helicopter and her first solo mission.   

+ + + + + 

Sunnydale – the Magic Box

"Harris.  I know you've just got back from Zanzibar but I need you to do me a favour.  And it's not exactly something London HQ needs to find out about." 

W leaned back in her leather swivel chair, the ice in her glass clinking as she swirled the amber liquid.  Harris had come straight from his debriefing and was still clad in his disguise.  The violently-coloured Hawaiian shirt and frayed panama hat didn't do him any favours, but he looked oddly comfortable. 

Harris took a seat opposite W, rasping his hand over his unshaven jaw.  He was dead on his feet, but when W called you just came running.  "Ooh, subterfuge.  I like it.  Makes me feel enigmatic and spylike!  Wait, I am a spy."

"Funny, you're very funny.  But will you do it?  It would mean a lot to me."

"Is it dangerous?  Will I be facing almost certain death?"

"Danger – possibly.  Death – unlikely.  Depends."

"Well, now I'm all intrigued.  What exactly do you want me to do, W?"

"I want you to be Buffy's bodyguard."

"What?  I don't understand -  isn’t she snuggled up with my old pal Blond right about now, celebrating her admission to the ranks?"  He sat forward, leaning on W's desk as he read the uncertainty in her eyes.  "W?  What gives?"

"Buffy sailed through the tests – with a higher score than both you and Blond by the way --  but a long-forgotten rule's been resurrected; before she can be granted 00 status, she has to complete a mission.  A solo mission.  No backup."

"Well, that's a first, but what’s the problem?  She can handle it.  She's good, W, really she is.  You should have seen her when we came to deal with your stinko-fiancé problem.  Has she told you she's worried?"

W sighed.  That was just it really.  She knew that Buffy would make a great agent, but something about this whole set-up didn’t sit well with her.  G had acquainted her on his history with ‘that bloody awful Post woman’ and W got a very strong impression that this was someone who’d stop at nothing to get her revenge for perceived wrongs.  And G was Buffy's main sponsor.  And it was Gwendolyn Post who had invoked the final hurdle.

"No, Harris.  She hasn't, but I’ve reason to believe that somebody high up doesn't really want Buffy to succeed.  It’s not that she's in danger, may just be that the odds have been stacked against her coming back with a successful mission under her belt.  But either way, I'm not going to let one of mine be messed with - hence, the cloak and dagger."

Harris relaxed.  Well, that was just – wrong; Buffy was well deserving of her spurs.  He found himself getting angry on her behalf.

"Okay, W.  I'll play.  Tell me what you need.  And just one thing – why me?  Why not Blond?"

"Blond is too involved.  He'd see Buffy in danger and rush in without waiting to see if she was coping.  It’s vital that she‘s allowed to carry out the mission on her own.  I just want you to be there as insurance."

"Fine.  Not a problem. When do I head out?"

"Now.  Sorry.  You must be exhausted but you should be able to catch a few hours’ sleep on the flight."

"Better get to it then.  And how am I going to swing my little absence with Personnel?"

"Not your problem, it’s all taken care of.  You'll get your orders on the jet." 

Harris stood, and mock-saluted her on his way to the door.  His limbs were leaden with tiredness and he was desperate for a shower and sleep, but he'd go the extra mile for W.  And for Buffy.  And for Blond if the truth be known.  "Oh, W.  Any special equipment I'll need?"

"Erm...aqualung?"  W grinned at the look on Harris' face.  "Don't worry.  G's on it.  He'll be coming along with you for the ride.  Seems he's got a sudden yen for a short vacation, so it’s rendezvous at the airfield in 40 minutes."

+ + + + +

Sunnydale – 'chez Blond' 

Spike paced around the apartment, swearing and kicking an unlucky cushion that lay in his path.  Who’d have thought that the very day Buffy was going it alone, he'd be cooling his heels waiting for orders to come through?  W had sent him home, telling him he was making her head hurt from the number of times he burst into her office demanding an update on Buffy's status.  In the end she'd threatened to have security escort him from the premises and he'd stormed out of the Magic Box and sped home in the Aston Martin.  But he couldn’t relax, everywhere he looked he was reminded of his wife; her scent permeated every room, a long golden hair drifted on the afternoon breeze, plucked up from a dusty corner.  She’d been gone for almost a month now, and he wasn't the best housekeeper.  Buffy usually saw to that....

Spike ground his teeth again in frustration.  He snagged his cellphone and punched in W's direct line. 

"W.  I don't care if I'm pissing you off, I can't sit here like a soddin' eunuch just because my pacing gives you a headache.  Will you please give me something to do, just to take my mind off it?  I promise I'll behave if you just let me come back in."

W sighed.  It was true that Blond's agitated questions were wearing her down, but the real reason she'd sent him home was so that he wouldn't bump into Harris and get wind of her plans.  Because he'd never let anybody else but him go mind Buffy.  And that way lay disaster.

Checking her watch and figuring that Harris and G were well on their way by now, she relented.  "Okay, Blond.  You can come back in.  But if there’s so much as a raised eyebrow from you, I'm sending you to Siberia.  You got it?"  There was silence on the other end of the phone.  "Blond?" 

But Spike Blond was already out of the door and en route to HQ.

+ + + + +

A helicopter, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean 

Buffy tried to calm her rising nerves as the helicopter dipped and rose on the hot air currents.  She shifted on the seat in an effort to free the shiny PVC dress from her sticky skin.  Big mistake.  She caught sight of her cleavage and gulped; it was like there were two puppies playing beneath her shocking pink bodice, and their noses were in grave danger of popping out.  Her tawdry travel bag was firmly stashed beneath the seat and she looked back to see five other similarly clad girls chattering excitedly. 

'Get a grip, Buffy!  You're supposed to be hot to get it on with Nautilust and his officers, like it's the pinnacle of your achievements.  Go play nice with the other sluts!' 

Painting on a vacuous smile, full of bubble-gum pink candy clouds, Buffy turned to the girl next to her, offering a hand tipped with bright pink talons.

"Hi!  I'm Candy.  What's your name?  And that's real pretty."  Buffy babbled on at the girl for a while, gushing about the garish costume jewellery that adorned her fellow traveller.

"Why thank you, Candy!  You’d never know it's not real, but it sure cost a lot less than if it was.  I'm hoping I'll get noticed this tour and maybe I can get me some real pretty baubles to keep me warm when I retire.  I'm Heidi."

They shook hands, Buffy held her breath as Heidi's overpowering perfume wafted from between her enormous bosoms and threatened to choke her.  She coughed, hoping Heidi wouldn't notice.  She needn't have worried.  Seemed like the little introduction was all her dusky companion had needed and she was now in full flow about what to expect.  Buffy had murmured that it was her first  'tour' and now she was being given a blow-by-blow account as to the ‘fun’ they’d be having.

Sex, apparently.  Lots and lots of sex.  Oh god; was it too late to bail?  Maybe the ocean wasn't that far below the chopper....

The pilot's voice cut into the monologue. 

"Ladies.  Welcome to Nautilust's Loveboat.  You have all been selected for your outgoing...erm personalities and heartwarming sympathy for our tired and lonely seamen, a charitable act for which you will be bountifully rewarded.  We hope your stay will be a happy and satisfying one and look forward to seeing you all again on your next visit.  We'll be landing in a few minutes so please fasten your seatbelts."

Buffy looked out of the window.  Landing where?

"Heidi, where will we be landing?  There is no land!"

"Oh, it's amazing!  It's like magic or something.  Watch – out of that window.  Any minute now..."

Buffy scanned the waves, seeing nothing but the white spray kicked up by the helicopter's rotors as they descended.  Then it was there!  Rising from the ocean and shedding water – a rock.  A rock?What the....

"Told you!  Isn't it great?  Nautilust got his brainboxes to fix the place up.  It’s kinda like his private island but the way it’s hidden is so cool and it just pops up when he needs it to.” Heidi’s monologue gained pace, “Everything's below the surface; it's like a huge underwater cavern but you'd never know.  There's even sunlight!.  Not that it’s actual sunlight, of course, but who’s complaining?  Anyway we'll soon be out of there, we have to go mingle with the crew on the submarine.  I just love a guy in uniform, don’t you?  Not that they keep them on for long --  they haven't seen a woman in six months!  Can you believe it!  I'm telling you honey, by the time we get off that sub we'll be walking like cowboys!"

Heidi cackled, spittle spraying Buffy's horrified face.  She switched to coy, affecting a giggle behind her hand and silently praying that Gwendolyn Post's assessement of this mission was accurate.  If her briefing document was to be believed, she should be in and out in one day and therefore avoid having to play sailors’ friend along with the partygirls.  Not that they looked at all concerned about it; in fact, they all looked like they could hardly wait to get to solacing the poor rampant sailors.

Buffy turned to the window and watched their descent, blinking back the tears from her eyes.

'Spike, my love.  I'll be home soon...' 

+ + + + + 

It had taken Spike Blond a mere six minutes to get to HQ from his apartment, a journey that usually took at least fifteen minutes on a good day, and it was only a minute later that he actually skidded to a halt in W's office.  W raised an eyebrow at the impatient spy and gestured to him to take a seat.  She was talking to Gwendolyn Post on the telephone, and mindful of the fact that Spike's vampiric hearing would pick up every syllable uttered by the woman she was increasingly coming to dislike, she terminated the discussion as soon as was politely possible.  The last thing she needed would be an enraged vampire hell-bent on revenge and on the loose in London.  Although as the prissy, cultured tones of Ms Post dismissed W rudely, the thought did have a certain appeal.

"Blond.  Listen to me and listen good.  I'm allowing you back on one condition – that no matter what happens you will accept my orders.  I know in the past I've looked the other way when you've come up with your own unique solutions to problems and I've been glad to do so. But this is different.  Buffy's entire future with the service depends upon this mission  - it has to be done by the book.  And if you go racing in fangs bared just because you think your wife may be in danger of breaking a nail, it could ruin everything – for both of you.  And it certainly wouldn't endear me to the inner sanctum back in London.  So I've one question for you: do you trust me?"

Spike considered the slight redhead with the earnest grey-green eyes that drilled into him.  She was beautiful, inside and out, and he knew that if she had to she'd break every damn rule in the book to make sure Buffy got home safely; and every bone in the person's body who tried to stop her.  Added to that, his gentle sister Tara was in love with her.  How could he not trust her.

"You know I do."

"Good.  Then let me do my job and leave it to me to retrieve my agent if necessary.  Deal?"

Spike smiled.  "Deal."  He relaxed back in his chair, resting one ankle across a muscular thigh, his hand stroking the glossy hand-made shoe, so highly polished it could show his reflection – if he’d had one.  "I'll play the game.  I'll pretend I don't know when Buffy's reporting in and even though you know it's killing me to find out how she is, I won't ask, and you won't tell anyway.  So shall we move on?  My assessment: did I pass?"

W shuffled papers across her desk, retrieving a buff folder marked "TOP SECRET : EYES ONLY".   She eyed Spike from beneath her lashes, opening the folder to reveal a number of photographs of him in various guises, medical and psychological assessments (and didn't they make a fascinating read!) and a plethora of recommendations that he be less impulsive, more disciplined, less of a risk taker etc etc, repeat until brain melts.  Honestly, she despaired sometimes.  Blond was their number one agent, had clocked more field time than any other 00 and always succeeded in pulling off the impossible.  And yet in every assessment the paranoid, anally retentive, pedantic operations bigwigs crawled out of the woodwork and recommended that he 'receive anger management therapy' or 'attended a refresher course in MI13 protocol’.  Hell, it was that very impetuousity and  reluctance to conform that made him such a great spy.  W closed the folder and pushed it away from her.

"You passed.  The usual recommendations; get Chase to book your place at the Morgan Institute for the full physical.  And make sure you go this time, Blond.  I can't keep excusing your attendance just because you're a baby about needles."

"'m not a baby!  Just don't see the point, is all.  I mean come on, W, I'm a bloody vampire!  What use is it taking blood samples from me – 's not like it's really my blood anyway.  What's it gonna tell 'em?  That I'm really Porky Pig in disguise?"

W stifled a grin.  He was right, of course.  But procedure was procedure and right now she'd rather he was occupied.  "You've nothing else on at present, Blond.  I'll speak to Chase myself if you won't so go on now; no reason why you can't head straight over and get it out of the way.  I'll pull some strings.  By the time Buffy's back, you'll both have your shiny new credentials and your shiny new guns and I'll have the time to sign you both off for a long overdue vacation."

Grumbling but heading out of the door on his way to see Chase anyway, just as W knew he would, Spike saluted his boss and silently gave thanks to whichever deity was listening that they were on the same side.

+ + + + +

G and Harris were both safely clad in high-density, low-visibility and rather stylish body armour that doubled as wetsuits.  Harris was lounging against the far wall of the stealth chopper devouring one Twinkie bar after another with his eyes closed in bliss.  G was anxiously checking and rechecking equipment, particularly his parachute, and muttering prayers under his breath. He wasn’t on the best of terms with heights, and in about five minutes he'd have to hurl himself out of a helicopter into unknown territory at high altitude.  He wasn't relaxed; he wasn't even in the same vicinity as relaxed, and Harris' laissez-faire attitude was grating on his nerves.

"Agent 0069 – do you have to chew so loudly?  And don't you think you've had enough of that rubbish?"

Harris opened his one good eye and gave G an evil glare.  Nobody messed with his Twinkies.

"G-man,  I can see what you're doing, even with just the one good eye.  Relax; either your chute will open or it won't.  Nothing you can do about it.  Anyway, have you seen yourself?  The last time I saw a pair of legs like that, they were running round the farmyard going ‘cluck cluck, cluck."

"Very droll.  And I'm being serious; you're getting quite a paunch on you there.  You need to go join Blond at the assessment centre."

"Yeah, well.  Kinda busy right now looking after his lady.  And, on that note – buckle up, G, we're at altitude.  You ready?"



"No, I'm just – it's not natural launching oneself out of an aircraft into the great unknown.  If god had meant us to fly, he wouldn't have given us vertigo."  G sighed, standing and adjusting his kit and dropping the HALO helmet over his head.  "Well, I suppose we'd better get to it."  His voice was now echoing through the speaking aperture and Harris roared with laughter.

"Get you, Darth G-der!  Come on now – and let the force be with you."  Xander pulled on his helmet and opened the hatch, not even hesitating before dropping over the edge and plummeting down.  G swallowed hard, closed his eyes and followed suit.


*CUT TO : a health spa, the Turkish bath.  Through the moist tendrils of steam can be seen a muscular and pale chest tracking down to a teeny, tiny white towel barely covering Spike Blond's modesty.  His hair is spiked up and tousled and his eyes shut in bliss.  Suddenly he is tackled to the ground by a naked woman, the towel being lost in the tussle.  The two roll on the floor, Blond ending up sitting up between her thighs as she tries to crush him and make him moan. 

"Ah, ah, ah......no more foreplay.  Don't you think you owe me a little something more than that, my naughty little spy?" 

Buffy sighs.  "And here I am trying to do the big bad thing." 

Spike rolls her to her back, nipping at her neck, his bare rump shiny with moisture droplets.  His voice rumbles in her ear.  "Well, speaking as the Big Bad thing I'd say you're doing it just fine!"