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Author's Note: I decided to do a Damages style of episode, flashing back between the events during the summer, and present Btvs time, to deal with how the Slayerettes find out about the Initiative, and what they do with Spike. Some dialogue has been taken from Pangs and Something Blue, but none of the elements for the main plots for episode have been included. Enjoy.

OPERATION 314.


Some time during the Summer Vacation......

"I have this dilemma."

Doyle turned to the former cheerleader of Sunnydale High. "What sort of dilemma?"

"I think me and Xander have reached a dead end. A fork in the road, where we need to go our separate ways."

"Shouldn't you be telling this to Xander, rather than me, Delia?" Doyle asked.

"At some point," Cordelia agreed. "But, and this is where its gets complicated. He's putting me through college."

Doyle halted mid walk by one of the many gravestones in Restfield, the area of patrol assigned to them by Buffy for that night. "That's why he brought the Bronze?"

"Yeah. When Dad had his little problem with IRS, Xander told me he would help me. The Bronze was his idea, and I couldn't say no."

"I don't think he'll stop funding your college if you break up with him," Doyle assured her. "Xander's not that vindictive. It's not like you're cheating on him or anything, are you?"

"No," Cordelia shook her head. "I'm gonna pay him back, eventually, providing I can find some sort of career, but I'm feeling guilty that I'm not doing anything in return for his helping me right now."

"You can't turn your relationship into that sort, Delia," Doyle pointed out.

"I wasn't thinking that," Cordelia protested. "I still care for him. Its so strange. We started off fighting with each other until we ended up kissing in storage rooms. We couldn't stand each other. But then it was like something flipped inside us, and suddenly we cared deeply. And now, I feel like we've plateaux. We're just friends who sleep with each other. I just don't know how to tell him."

"Maybe feels the same and he doesn't know how to tell you," Doyle offered.

"Perhaps," Cordelia allowed, her gaze abruptly switching from him to something behind him. "Er, vampire, three rows away."

"On it," Doyle replied, fishing the stake out of his jacket.

Together they crouched and quietly ran across the graveyard, reaching the undead demon just as the corpse he was currently inhabiting turned to face them.

"Hey," he greeted them, eyeing the stakes in their hands. "You the slayer?"

"No, just another of her welcoming committee," Cordelia replied. "But, if you wanna meet her, we could just call her over. I'm sure she'd love a fight."

The vampire shook his head rather frantically. "No, no fighting please."

Doyle frowned, followed by his companion. "No on fights? I thought you vamps loved the pleasure of the combat."

"Normally a rousing cheerleader of that ethic," the vampire replied. "But lately, not so much. Just kill me, please."

"What, you asking us to dust you, now?" Cordelia queried.

"Dust, stake, slay, whatever phrase you feel comfortable with," the vampire replied. "Just, please, do it, I'm begging you. I can't live like any longer."

"If you're feeling that desperate, why don't you just wait for the sunrise?" Doyle asked, puzzled.

"Have you tried that?" The Vampire shot back. "Seen a vamp try it? Its not pretty, man, nor quick or painless. Burning at the stake would be preferable, or better still a burning stake put through the heart."

"Why do you wanna die so badly?" Cordelia asked.

"Haven't you heard about the new outfit that's after us?" The Vamp countered. "Black clothed commandos, with tazer guns?"

Cordelia and Doyle looked at him blankly.

"Doesn't matter, you soon will," he added. "Being captured by them is worse than the slayer, believe me."

"How can a vampire fear something more than the slayer?" Cordelia asked.

"Because at least the slayer just kills you," the vamp replied. "These guys, they take away the very ability for us to live. I was caught by them three weeks back. Somehow, I don't know how, I got out of their testing lab."

"Testing lab?" Doyle echoed, interrupting.

"Ain't no other phrase for it," the vampire added. "I was hungry, so I tried to feed on someone. But the second I got close, this pain lanced through my brain like a stake through the heart. I can't even hit anyone. I thought about trying the hospital, waiting for the donor run, but they got wise to that a long time ago. Anyway, I've told you all I know, now could you just stake me, please?"

"Pain?" Cordelia queried. "What sort of pain? And how is that possible?"

"Or forget it, I'll do it myself," the vampire said, grabbing a wooden implement off them and thrusting it straight through his heart.

As the remains slowly fell to the ground, Doyle turned to his companion. "I think we need to tell Buffy about this."

Cordelia nodded.


"He did it himself?" Buffy echoed, glancing at her soulmate, whose expression was equally mystified. "Why would a vamp wanna do that?"

"All he said was that these commando guys clothed in black caught him about three weeks ago," Cordelia recapped. "Then somehow, he escaped, and now everytime he tries to bite someone, he gets this pain lancing through his head."

"Commando guys? Well, that's a new one," Buffy remarked.

"Have you talked to Giles about them?" Angel asked.

"Yeah we swung by his and Jenny's on our way here," Doyle replied. "He hasn't a clue, other than that they're no demons that's for sure."

Angel glanced at Buffy who nodded. "We'll have to go and check that out."

True enough when their friends had left, Buffy and Angel gathered their patrol equipment together once more and patrolled the town, starting with Restfield and working through the rest of the graveyards until they hit upon the commandos three cemeteries later. Crouching down behind a convenient marble monument, they watched silently as a group of black clothed figures electrocuted one vampire before securing the beast from escaping their custody as they left the graveyard.

Giving them time to acquire a reasonable distant, the couple discreetly followed them until the commandos reached their headquarters, Lowell House on the campus of the university. Needless to say, they were stunned and they were not the first of the slayerettes to be so that night.

"What I don't get is how come I haven't seen these guys until now?" Buffy queried to the rest of the group after they had been summoned to her watcher's apartment. "I've lived here for three years, and these guys have managed to remain off my radar? What does that say about my skills as a slayer?"

"Nothing," Giles assured her. "These people are either new, or you haven't come across them before because this is the first time that you've been on their territory. Or rather they've crossed over to yours."

"So you're saying I've haven't noticed them before because they've stuck to the campus?" Buffy sought to confirm. "Well, that's a little comforting, I suppose. They're certainly not new though, Giles. From where me and Angel were watching this gig appeared to be well rehearsed and repeated frequently. It almost looked military."

"Makes sense," Willow remarked. "I mean, the Mayor knew, didn't he? And Snyder by the looks of things. They must have had some help before you arrived."

"The question is not why are they here, but what they are doing to the demons," Giles added. "From what Cordelia and Doyle reported, it sounds like they're treating them as nothing more than lab rats."

"That's inhuman," Angel uttered. "I know none of us are saints, but I don't think we deserve to be experimented on to the point of rendering our survival impossible."

"Angel's right," Xander agreed, surprising everyone. "We've come across enough demons in our time to know that not all of them are bad. At least when you dust them, Buffy, they don't suffer."

"Agreed," Giles continued. "So what are we going to do about them?"

"What can we do?" Willow asked. "I don't see us suddenly being offered a job for them once we start college."

"No, we need an undercover operative," the watcher replied. "Someone they think they can trust, because he or she has the same military background."

"I'll do it," Xander offered.

"What?" Buffy, along with everyone else, looked at him with surprise.

"It's not like I don't still have that training from Halloween," Xander added. "I still remember most of that stuff, and Willow and Oz could hack me an in with their computer skills."

"It would be dangerous, Xand," Buffy pointed out. "We're in the dark here. And it could get even darker. You willing to take that sort of risk?"

"I am," her best friend replied.

"Then let's get started," Giles decided.


Back to Present day.....

"So," Buffy remarked as she reached for a stake, "Give me one good reason why I shouldn't dust you right now."

From his position just in front of the entrance to the mansion, Spike affected his best charm. "You'd miss me?"

Buffy smirked. "You really thought that one would work?"

Spike shrugged. "Thought it was worth a shot. What about Xander let me escape from that lab he found me in?"

"He let you escape because we asked him to," Angel informed him. "Not because we wanted to see you."

Spike growled in frustration, his patience and his hunger running thin. "Oh, damn it! look, I'm safe. I can't bite anyone. Willow, tell them what I did."

"You said you were gonna kill me, then Buffy," Willow remarked.

"Yes, bad," Spike agreed as he faced the slayer's glare, "but let's skip that part and get to the part where I couldn't bite you."

Willow nodded. "It's true. He had trouble performing."

"Yeah, well, it looks like they've done me for good," Spike added.

"What are you saying?" Buffy asked.

"I'm saying that Spike had a little trip to the vet and now he doesn't chase the other puppies anymore," Spike replied. "I can't bite anything. I can't even hit people."

"So you haven't murdered anybody lately?" Buffy commented sarcastically, adding a fake bright smile to her face. "Let's be best pals."

"I've got information," Spike tried. "About the soldier boys you were fighting. Got the inside scoop. Come on, what have you got to be afraid of?"

Angel turned to his beloved. "What do you think?"

Buffy shrugged. "I'm willing to let him tell us what more he thinks he knows than Xander does. with certain conditions."

 




Conditions included tying Spike to a chair before they begun a interrogation in the double height living room of the mansion on Crawford Street.

"Grrr. Bloody hell, woman. You're cutting off my circulation," he growled at her.

"You don't have any circulation," Buffy pointed out.

"Well, it pinches," Spike argued.

The slayer shrugged. "Get used to it. I have more important things to worry about."

Spike acquired an injured expression. "I came to you in friendship."

Buffy looked at him in disbelief.

"Well, alright, seething hatred," Spike admitted, "but I've got useful information, and I feel I'm being mistreated."

"So tell me everything you know," Buffy replied.

"I'm too hungry to remember everything," Spike protested.

"Then sit," Buffy replied, turning and walking to the open kitchen door. "How are things going in there?"

"Uh, how much butter goes in with these?" Anya asked.

"About half a stick and a quarter cup of brandy," Buffy replied.

"I wouldn't say no to a brandy," Spike remarked.

"Really, what else wouldn't you say no to?" Angel asked.

"A quarter cup of brandy and let it simmer," Buffy instructed before walking back into the double height living room which had become a temporary makeshift interrogation room, as none of them had decided yet whether to give Angel's grandchilde house room.

"Hey, when do I get fed?" Spike asked.

"After we've had thanksgiving dinner," Buffy informed him.

"You know what happens to vampires who don't get to feed?" Spike asked her.

Buffy turned to Angel. "I always wondered about that."

"Living skeletons, luv," Spike answered. "Like famine pictures from those dusty countries, only not half as funny."

"You can have gravy," Buffy allowed. "That has blood in it, right?"

Spike frowned. "Do you know what else has blood in it? Blood."

"Do I have to gag you?" Buffy asked him. "Because I am not gonna listen to you whine all the way through my dinner. It's gonna be a nice, quiet, civilised dinner."

"Civilised?" Spike echoed, scoffing. "Since when is Thanksgiving civilised? It's a celebration of destroying another race of human beings. All this namby-pamby boohooing about the bloody Indians makes me sick."

Buffy tried to inject. "Uh, the preferred term,"

Spike cut her off. "You won. All right? You came in and you killed them and you took their land. That's what conquering nations do. It's what Caesar did, and he's not going around saying, 'I came, I conquered, I felt really bad about it.' The history of the world isn't people making friends. You had better weapons, and you massacred them. End of story. Eating a meal to celebrate each year it smacks of insulting the buggers."

"That's what I've been trying to say," Willow reminded her best friend.

Spike grinned at her. "Knew I could count on you, Red."

"Well, history aside," Buffy began, "thanksgiving to me is part of my childhood tradition, and I'm determined to enjoy tonight, whether you're here or not."

"I don't know why I bothered coming," Spike muttered.

"You'd prefer it back at the Initiative?" Xander asked him. "Because I can just as easily take you back there."

"Here," Joyce remarked as she walked in, handing the vampire a steaming mug with a straw. "Hot chocolate, with marshmallows."

"Thank you, Joyce," Spike remarked, taking a sip.

"Mom," Buffy groaned.

"Look, honey, tormenting him isn't going to make him co-operate," Joyce pointed out. "He'll just end up being more difficult. Besides, I'm not feeding him, am I?"

"True," Buffy agreed. "I need to go and supervise dinner."

"I'll join you," Xander added as he followed her through the dining room and into the large kitchen in the Crawford Mansion.

"So, I've think we can establish that the chip is inserted almost immediately after capture," Giles mused from his place at the breakfast table. Scattered across the surface were notes from Xander's debriefing concerning a timetable as to when Spike was captured until his assisted escape the night before.

"Yeah, I still haven't found out exactly when they do that," Xander replied. "But I'm sure it involves Walsh and the labcoats, not us combat guys."

"Well, at least we can rule out the theory that they use some sort of weapon to do it," Giles decided. "And now with Spike, we have an ideal opportunity to test its limitations, if it has any, that is."

"Such as if it inhibits a vampire from attacking demons?" Buffy asked him.

"I still believe it has only one primary function," her watcher added. "To induce a Pavlovian pain response whenever the vampire comes into contact with living prey."

"I think that if they can create something which causes a vamp pain whenever he or she tries to bit someone, then they must be able to add other limits or allowances to it as well," Buffy argued. "What if the vamp finds someone unconscious, or dying, for example? Do we really think that the Initiative haven't prepared for that?"

"Buffy has a point," Xander agreed. "They put tracers in them after all. I'd be surprised if there wasn't anything else lurking within them."

Giles nodded before returning to the study the notes before him further. Silently he recalled the first time Xander had returned from the headquarters of the Initiative to give a briefing to the slayer and slayerettes. The young man had been disgusted at the sight of the experiments conducted on the vampires and demons, sickened to think that at one time he might have been indifferent to such a concept. The transformation from the boy Giles had first met to the man who stood before him now was remarkable.

"Such as?" He asked him now.

"I don't know, commands to modify their behaviour?" Xander suggested.

"You mean the chip could teach them not only that when you try to bite a human you get pain, but not to want to bite people at all?" Buffy sought to confirm.

"Yeah," Xander added. "They could even be turning them into soldiers or something, you know; cannon fodder."

"I don't which is worse," Giles murmured. "It seems the more we study the Initiative, the darker they become. Perhaps we should accelerate matters."

"You mean introduce them to Buffy sooner?" Angel queried. "How are we gonna explain that?"

"'Hi, I gather you guys make vampires into harmless undead corpses,'" Buffy uttered a sarcastic tone. " 'Oh, by the way, did I mention that I'm the vampire slayer?'" She shook her head. "No, we have to find an opening, else it all looks forced and false."

"They have to be able to trust her from the get go," Xander agreed. "Otherwise our groundwork during the summer is meaningless."

"You're right," Giles agreed. "I just don't like using the wait and see method on this occasion."

"Neither do I," Buffy replied. "But I don't think we have any other choice."

"Okay, change of subject," Angel announced after they had all taken a moment to gather their thoughts. "What are we doing with Spike? Aside from interrogating him."

"I think we'll have to keep an eye on him, even when we've got all we can out of him," Giles replied. "As much of an annoyance as he is, if we let him go, we run the risk of being discovered by the Initiative before we're ready for it."

"You think he would betray us?" Willow asked.

Angel nodded. "In heartbeat, if it's to his advantage. Spike does nothing selflessly." He paused, sighing at his demonic descendant. "The only reason he has turned to ask our help is for sanctuary and food."

"And board," Buffy added. "I don't think anyone in the vampire community will put him up."

"What about Harmony?" Cordelia asked. "Isn't she still around?"

"Last I heard from Willy, she's got herself an empowering manual," Buffy replied. "I don't think Spike will be able to win her over a third time, especially as she kicked him out before he went to see you, Will."

"So I guess we'll have to house him," Angel decided reluctantly.

"Thanks for volunteering us, honey," Buffy returned.

"You really think we'll be able to move him someplace else?" Angel countered gently. "We'll give him one of the guest bedrooms on the top floor."

"Okay," Buffy agreed. "But he's not getting a bed, not yet."


"So.. you saw their faces but you can't describe them." Buffy concluded during the interrogation session the next day, after they removed the tracer from his chip with a magic potion, her irritation levels rising, while her tolerance for her guest decreased steadily. Already they had been forced to move their unwanted house guest into a guest ensuite bathroom on the third floor, complete with a television from the bedroom next door as his shouts during the night were loud enough to disturb her and Angel's sleep.

"Well, they were human," Spike confirmed. "Two eyes each, kind of in the middle."

"Uh huh," Buffy nodded. "And the lab?"

"Underground," Spike answered. "I came out through an air vent. I don't know exactly where. I'm done. Put the telly on."

"You've just told us nothing more than what Xander knows," Buffy remarked. "So no you are not done, not be a long shot."

Giles entered from the landing, carrying a mug with the motto 'kiss the librarian' written on the side, a novelty gift from him to Buffy and Angel when they moved in together.

"It's about time," Spike remarked. "Hope you got it warm enough."

The former watcher handed the mug to his slayer, who reluctantly placed it before the bleached white blond vampire's mouth. Spike tilted his head to grab the straw, making a deliberate effort to irritate by sucking on the implement noisily.

"I don't know why you're so dainty all of a sudden," he commented between sucks as Buffy pulled an expression of disgust. "You've done this for Angel.... or maybe you do it differently," he added, eyeing the scar on her neck.

Buffy pulled the mug away, leaving the straw sticking out of his mouth.

"Hey!" Spike cried. "Give it!"

"Okay, that's it," Buffy declared. "The invalid amnesiac routine is over. The kitchen is closed until you can tell me something useful about the commandos."

Spike affected a feared look. "I'm trying to remember. It was very traumatic."

The slayer put her hands to her hips. "How long are you going to pull this crap?"

"How long am I going to live once I tell you?" Spike countered.

Giles sighed and took his glasses off to clean. "Look, look, Spike, we have no intention of killing a harmless.. uh, creature.. but we have to know what's been done to you. We can't let you go until we're sure that you're .... impotent,"

"Hey!" Spike interrupted, insulted.

"Sorry, poor choice of words," Giles apologised. "Until we're sure you're, you're.."

"Flaccid?" Buffy offered, grinning.

Spike glared at her. "You are one step away, missy."

The threat did not even cause her to blink. "Giles, help! He's going to scold me."

Annoyed at her sarcasm, Spike tried to free himself and grab her, but his chains were too secure for the attempt to look anything other than comical.

"You know what?" Buffy remarked. "I don't think you want us to let you go. Maybe we made it a little too comfy in here for ya."

"Comfy?" Spike echoed in disbelief. "I'm chained in a bathtub drinking pig's blood from a novelty mug. Doesn't rank huge in the Zagut's Guide."

"You want something nicer?" Buffy countered. She tilted her head to one side, exposing her neck to him. "Look at my poor neck?" she began in a seductive tone. "All bare and tender and exposed.... all that blood just .... pumping away.."

Giles groaned. "Oh, please."

Spike licked his lips. "Giles, make her stop."

The university professor ignored him and walked out into the bedroom, where Willow was studying a spell book. "If those two don't kill each other, I might lend a hand."

"What about a truth spell?" Willow suggested. "I'm not positive it would work on a vampire, but we could try. Make him fess up?"

"A truth spell, of course," Giles agreed, brightening. "Why didn't I think of that?"

"'Cause you had your hands full with the undead English Patient?" Willow offered, handing him the book for a consult.

Giles studied the incantation for a few minutes then nodded. "Yes. We'll have a go."

"Looks pretty simple," Willow added. "I'll stop by the magic shop tomorrow."

"Excellent," Giles declared.

"Alright. I'll be back in the morning with donuts and motherwort," Willow replied, before raising her voice to say farewell to her best friend. "Bye, Buffy!"

"Bye!" Buffy called out.

"How's it going?" Angel asked as he returned to the room.

"Buffy has been teasing him with her neck," Giles replied as he and Angel wandered into the bathroom.

"Don't worry, he's not getting it," Buffy assured her soulmate.

"I know, he'd have to get through me first, even if he could hurt you," Angel added.

"Hey, I'll have you know I can take you any time, mate," Spike declared.

"It would be interested to see if the chip works on half-vampires," Giles aloud.

"I'm game," Angel murmured with an almost Angelus quality.

"Half-Vampire?" Spike echoed. "No wonder this tastes off, unless you have been feeding off her, if that scar's anything to go by."

"FYI, that was to save his life before the summer," Buffy explained. "And this marks me as his, so fangs off."

"Oh, I never paid much attention to that vampire mark crap," Spike informed them. "Never was one to hold with traditions, me. Except when it came to killing slayers. Now Passions is on! Timmy's down the bloody well, and if you make me miss it, I'll..."

"You'll do what?" Giles queried. "Lick us to death?"

"I could make you have an accident with a carving knife," Spike remarked. "That'd give ya an open wound and then I'm sure this bugger in my head wouldn't go off."

"We better leave him be," Angel decided, positioning the cup so his grandchilde could drink from it without the mug falling to the floor. "Before he tries to test his theory."

"I suppose we shouldn't treat him so badly," Buffy allowed as they descended the stairs into the double height living room. "He did help me out when you lost your soul."

"Only to rescue Druscilla," Angel reminded her.

"True," Buffy conceded. "He does have that weird affinity with my Mom, though. She might be able to get something out of him."

"Willow suggested a truth spell," Giles revealed. "which might work, although I am beginning to have my doubts as whether he does know anything more than Xander has found out. Short of learning what limits the chip inside him has, I don't know if he has anything useful to contribute."

"Aside from testing our patience and tolerance levels," Buffy added. "But what else could we do? We could hardly leave him there for the Initiative to interrogate. They might have learned about the slayer through him."

"How do we know that they don't know already?" Angel asked quietly.

Buffy stilled. "You're right," she whispered. "He's not the first vampire over a century old that they've captured and he certainly won't be the last."

"There's another thought which has just occurred to me as well," Giles said with a tone deadly softness, one he used whenever there was danger apparent. "What if that room called 314 which we have named our undercover operation with, hides a lab which is focused on the slayer?"

There was a long minute of silence which followed the airing of this thought, as the three adults considered the deadly consequences which could be behind it. What if their plan was destined to fail all along? What if the Initiative saw the slayer as a threat instead of an ally, which they had intended allowing them to believe, at least in the beginning. When they embarked on this idea of investigation the group of commandos which had caused a vampire to slay itself, information was all they had been interested in.

Who, what, why, where and when, were the words which begun the questions they needed answers to. But when Xander reported on what answers he had discovered, the dark nature of the knowledge ate away at them, forcing them to examining their moral codes, questioning whether what they did to demons was a better, kinder fate than that which the Initiative left them to. When they were forced to conclude that dusting was indeed an act of mercy, they vowed never to hand a demon or vampire over to the Initiative, even through force.

Until the incident with Veruca, they had kept that vow, believing, even then, that her actions justified theirs. Now, Buffy wondered, whether or not it was wise letting the Initiative keep everything they captured by themselves. True, Xander risked a great deal if they asked him to release all the captives, but was there any justification in letting them put chips inside vampires brain's which severely damaged their need to survive?

She turned to her watcher. "You were right, Giles, this wait and see plan is becoming less and less of a good idea. However, we don't have any choice. We just have to play it through, proceed how we originally decided to." she paused, before adding, "and if they do have something which they think can kill a slayer, I say let them try, because I'm not ready to die yet, not without one hell of a fight."

The End
To Be Continued In

WWP: RDH.