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In Pieces

By Ariel Dawn

Summary: Buffy has a chat with a few people.

Disclaimer: Joss, he is god. Not God god, but a lesser benevolent god.

Author’s note: All hail BTL who beta’s so nicely, and who even beta’s when she’s sick! *many hugs* This is the last chapter folks. Thanks to everyone who’s stuck through with this one. I know it’s been a long time coming.

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Chapter 12: All the Pieces

Buffy took a few steps towards the car before realising that leaving Spike and Riley together was a recipe for disaster.

“You dust him and you will regret it, you get me Riley?” Buffy declared before opening the door of Spike’s Desoto. Riley nodded once, a grim look on his face. Quickly, Buffy slipped into the back seat of the black car and sat beside Faith, who was still staring straight ahead.

“Buffy,” Faith greeted.

“Faith,” Buffy responded. “How’s it going? Or more to the point…why didn’t you run away? I expected to have to chase you down.”

“Not worth running anymore,” Faith sighed.

“Explainy?”

“I messed up. I’m not talking about the deal with the Mayor, or the jealousy that you were the Slayer when I was supposed to be the Slayer. The boy change thing. Riley loves you. Xander loves you. Spike loves you. You’ve got friends. I’ve never had that.”

“You could have had that,” Buffy responded.

“I know. I saw it when I was pretending to be you.”

Buffy nodded. “And that’s why you didn’t run away? You could have made a life for yourself somewhere you know.”

“If I run, they’ll always be after me. You’ve proven that.”

“True enough. This birdie likes to get her worm. And boy did that come out wrong.”

“I think your worm is waiting outside the car,” Faith snickered. “You just gotta choose which worm you really want.”

“My life has become far too complicated. I remember when things were simple…see demon, slay demon. Now I just want to slay the boyfriend and bang the demon,” Buffy admitted.

“I’d bang the demon,” Faith noted, “if I were you. I mean, I’m not you, but you do have that unfortunate kink for the vamps. Personally, white bread is rather tempting for a delinquent like me.”

Buffy laughed. “You know, a week ago, I would have kicked your ass for saying something like that.”

“And now?”

“And now, you can have him.”

“Nah, I’ll find myself some nice normal guy when I get out of prison. If I get out of prison.”

“How you want to do this?” Buffy asked after a short pause.

“I was thinking of getting Spike to drive me to the police station. You need to talk to that boyfriend of yours.”

“Yeah, I really do,” Buffy mumbled with a pout.

“I’m sorry for messing up your life.”

“I’m sorry you didn’t get to be the only slayer.”

Buffy leaned over and gave Faith a hug and then exited the car, looking first at Riley, but walking towards Spike.

“All sorted love?” Spike asked.

“Mostly,” Buffy noted, drawing Spike further away from the car, and from Riley. “She wants you to drive her to the police station. She’s going to turn herself in.”

“Damn noble.”

“We slayers tend to nobility,” Buffy half laughed. “You’re okay with that?”

Spike nodded. “What’ll you do then?”

“I’ve got to talk to Riley. A talk in which he knows that I’m me.”

“Right then.” There was a sadness in his voice that she hadn’t heard in a while.

“I have to. He’s still my boyfriend. Well he still thinks he is. You’d think after yelling at him for days…“ Buffy sighed. “I’ll see you back in Sunnydale tomorrow night?”

“If you want to.”

“I’ll want to.”

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They were just past LA city limits when Buffy decided that it was time to do some admissions.

“Riley, Faith and I have completely switched back,” she started, looking straight ahead.

“Oh yeah? When did this happen? ‘Cause you seemed pretty chummy with Spike not too long ago.”

“He’s taking Faith to the police station. She’s turning herself in.”

“You made her see the error of her ways?” Riley said angrily. He pulled the car off to the side of the road. “You vindictive bitch!” he yelled. “You’ve set her up. I bet Spike gave her something to make her so complacent. You’ve sent Buffy to prison to serve your sentence. I have to stop him.”

“Riley!” Buffy shouted, putting her hand on his arm as he pulled to car back onto the road, heading back to LA.

“I’m not listening to you anymore. You’re the one going to jail. And then I’m going to deal with Spike. I can’t believe I was so trusting. I thought you’d changed.”

“I have changed Riley,” Buffy said, crossing her arms. “It’s you who hasn’t. You don’t know me. At all. You didn’t know me when I switched with Faith the first time, you didn’t know when I switched back and now you are convinced that I’m still the girl who pulled the wool over your eyes. I am Buffy Summers.”

“How can I believe that?” he asked, slowing the car down. “Both of you have been doing such a good job acting like each other.”

“I thought that was the point. You can believe it because I am telling the truth.”

“Your word isn’t going to get me on this one. I’m going to need a little bit more than that.”

“The first time I met you, I dropped a text book on your head. Faith doesn’t know that. She was in the coma then.”

“I want to believe you.”

“Then believe. This is me. Buffy. The Buffster. Slayer comma, the.”

Riley pulled the car off to the side of the road again and turned on the inside lights, illuminating for the first time, Buffy’s eyes.

“Your eyes are green,” he whispered.

“They are,” Buffy responded with a smile.

“You are Buffy.”

“In the flesh.”

In an instant, Riley pulled her towards him, his lips crushing against hers. This she hadn’t been expecting. She pushed him off of her.

“Riley!” she hissed.

“What? Buffy, you can’t honestly think that I wouldn’t want to kiss you once I found out that you are you,” he retorted.

“Yes, that seems reasonable. But let’s not discount the whole, ‘does Buffy want to be kissed?’ scenario. We have to talk Riley.”

Riley sighed. “I’m not sure if I want to have this talk.”

“I’m 100% sure that you don’t. But it has to be done.”

“Can I ask why? I mean it seems like this is coming out of left field here. I know I tried my best, Buffy. Sometimes I have problems dealing with the wacky that surrounds you. I want to be what you need, but it’s just so damn impossible.”

This is hardly coming out of left field! she ranted to herself.

“That’s me, Buffy Summers, impossible girl. The way I look at it is that if the wacky didn’t follow me around, sure I’d have a normal life, sure I’d have time to be the doting girlfriend, friend, and daughter. But I like saving the world. Some people wait their whole lives to find out why they were put on this planet, I don’t have to. I am the chosen one. If being the chosen one means that I have to deal with the wacky that screws up my relationships, oh well. If the wacky hadn’t interfered here, well, I wouldn’t have seen something that I’m afraid is really important to me.”

“That I know the colour of your eyes?” he asked, smiling hopefully.

“No, Riley. It’s not something as simple or as complicated as that. It’s not that you know what colour my eyes are, or that you can tell if someone is inhabiting my body or if it’s me inside, it’s that there were people that did know it was me. They see me, not for the physical stuff, the way I look or how I speak, but that they see me for who I really am. I need that in my life.”

“And I’m not that. I’m sorry if I don’t read auras like Tara, or have some innate vampire sense like Spike. I’m only human Buffy.”

“Maybe only human’s not for me.”

Buffy could hear him grit his teeth together. She could tell that he was trying not to get mad. She was sort of proud of him, not lashing out with a badly planned defence, or taking it out on the vampire she knew his mind would be fixated upon.

“I’m sorry, Riley,” Buffy ended with a sigh.

“I am too. I tried so hard these last couple of days, never knowing if you were you or Faith. I was just hoping that you’d forgive me for not seeing when you switched or sleeping with Faith in your body.”

“I know.”

“So it’s over?”

“Yeah.”

“I still don’t want it to be over, Buffy.”

“It’s too late.”

Buffy stared out the window for the rest of the drive knowing that he wanted to salvage the relationship. She knew it couldn’t be pieced back together. No matter what she said, she did really think that had she and Riley been meant to be, he would have known it was her.

Riley dropped her off at her mother’s house, and sped away, no good bye, no fare well or best wishes. Watching his taillights turn the corner, Buffy had a bad feeling that she knew Riley was going to take his disappointment out on Spike.

Not even bothering to go in the house and let her mother know that she was back in town or completely switched back, Buffy ran straight for Restfield cemetery.

The Slayer had her doubts as to whether Spike had actually gotten in from LA yet; he did have to drop Faith off at the police station. For that matter he could have stopped to get a drink somewhere. He hadn’t looked pleased that she was going to spend the two hour drive with Riley and Spike did like to drown his sorrows.

Buffy burst into the crypt in which Spike resided to find that the vampire was not yet home. She breathed a sigh of relief. There were no tell tale piles of dust or signs of struggle either, which were both of the good in the Buffy book.

The crypt itself was spacious and had lots of potential, home décor wise. It was on the chilly side, and she really couldn’t see herself getting naked here very often. She was a California girl after all, she liked her sun and her heat. She found herself a seat on the tomb residing in the crypt and waited.

She swung her legs, twiddled her thumbs for a bit, and whistled a jaunty tune before she decided she’d had enough waiting. She hopped down from the tomb and walked towards the door, only to have it open almost as soon as she reached it.

Riley was striding through the door, stake in hand.

Oh, yeah, she’d been completely correct in her assumption earlier. Putting her hands on her hips, she tapped her foot in annoyance.

“Buffy!” Riley said with a start. “What are you doing here?”

“I would ask you the same thing Riley, but I know the answer already. I am here because I thought you’d take out your rejection and aggression on Spike. Sometimes I hate when I am right. Go home Riley. Spike’s not here and I don’t want you staking my friend.”

“Spike’s not your friend.”

“Yes, actually, he is. You staking him isn’t going to get me to see the light, if anything, it would probably make me want to inflict some serious pain. Spike did nothing to you, he didn’t take me away from you, this wasn’t his fault. Blame me, blame Faith, blame yourself, but don’t blame him.”

“Why are to standing up for him?” Riley asked, turning to head out the door again. “He’s a lousy vampire. He doesn’t deserve it. He’s a killer.”

“Maybe, but he sees me,” she responded, as that familiar feeling of a vampire approaching encroached on her senses.

Riley sighed and left the crypt. Buffy watched as he walked dejected out of the cemetery, never once letting her eyes leave his retreating back. She was afraid that if, for even one moment, she let her eyes drift he’d find his way back to the crypt. She heard the distinct sound of a car accelerating away before she closed the crypt door. Until Riley accepted this, Spike wasn’t going to be safe.

“It’s a bloody good thing that solider boy doesn’t have that nice tingley slayer sense,” came Spike’s voice from the hole in the floor.

“Yeah,” she answered, facing him, “it is.”

“So you two are officially over then?”

“It was over the moment he didn’t recognise me in that church. But I had a rather nice, polite break up with him in the car on the way back to Sunnydale and if he thinks that staking my favourite vampire is going to make me want to get back together with him, he’s got a world of pain to look forward to.”

A smile spread over Spike’s face. “I’m your favourite vamp, am I?”

“You betcha mister,” she answered walking towards the hole in the ground that his torso was poking out of.

With a jump, Spike was out of the hole and face to face with the Slayer.

“I have my nose back,” Buffy observed quietly.

“And a right pretty nose it is,” he commented.

“I’m whole Buffy. I’m me, me.”

“So you are, pet.”

“So I was wondering, just how you would feel about that ’r’ word we were discussing a few nights back?”

“R word huh?” Spike chuckled. “Yeah, I guess I’d be willing to give it a go.”

Buffy couldn’t help the smile that crept up on her features. In a second she launched herself into the blond vampire’s arms, her lips seeking his out. His arms wrapped around his back, she felt herself being carried over to the tomb. This felt right. With all the wrong that had been happening in her life lately, this, this connection with the one person who always seemed to see her, felt right.

Repaired. That’s what it felt like. Completely unbroken.

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