Chapter 1: Change of Plans
Tilting her head to look at the painting, Buffy tasted her champagne, idly staring at the piece of art as she brushed her hair away from her cheek, almost wanting to get a better look.
Turning at the sound of the British accent, Buffy arched an eyebrow at the blonde man standing next to her. “It is,” she said with a slight nod of agreement.
“I meant the admirer,” he replied with a slow smirk, eyeing her up and down as he bit his bottom lip, taking in the curves that were accentuated by the black dress.
Nearly laughing as she shook her head, Buffy sighed. “Please tell me that line doesn’t normally work.”
“Wouldn’t know, love. Never tried it before. I’m William Reed,” he said, holding out his hand.
The familiarity of the name stuck with her as she accepted his hand, smiling when he gently kissed the back of it. “Buffy Summers.”
“So, Buffy Summers, are you in the art business?” he asked, tilting his head to look at her in interest.
“I dabble,” she said with a soft smile, watching as William grabbed two champagne flutes from a waiter’s tray, waiting until Buffy set her glass on the tray and accepted the one that he offered.
“Dabble?” he asked after a moment, glancing around the art gallery as the people continued to mill around, looking at the expensive pieces.
“My mother was an artist,” she said, turning her attention back to the painting.
“Summers,” William said softly, seemingly considering the name. “Can’t say I remember that name.”
“Robertson,” Buffy corrected. “She didn’t go by ‘Summers’.”
“Joyce Robertson,” he said in a quiet tone, nodding as he placed the name. “I was sorry to hear about her passing.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, glancing down at the champagne, watching the liquid lap at the sides of the crystal.
“Are you an artist?”
“Not really,” Buffy replied with a soft smile, avoiding his eyes as she glanced around the room. “I think it’s relaxing to paint, but I wouldn’t qualify myself as an artist.”
“I’m sure you’re being too hard on yourself,” he said with a soft smile.
Risking a glance across the room, Buffy frowned when she saw Rupert Giles gesturing to her before she slowly turned to face William. “Sorry to cut this short,” she said with a regretful smile. “I think it’s about time I call it a night.”
“Understandable,” he replied, checking his Rolex. “I have to be off, myself. Would you care for a ride?”
“Thank you, but I drove myself,” she said with a slight nod.
“In that case…would you mind if I gave you a call sometime?”
Raising an eyebrow at the abruptness of his approach, Buffy slowly smiled. “Actually, I would,” she said, biting her lip to suppress the giggle at his downcast expression. “I can give you a call, though.”
Smiling when he realized what she was saying, he reached into his pocket, handing her a business card with no business insignia on it. Buffy frowned but didn’t say anything, looking at the card.
“Thanks,” she said softly, raising her eyes to his. “I’ll hold onto this.”
“Good to know,” he said, taking her hand for the second time that night and leaving a soft kiss on it.
Seeing that Giles was getting increasingly frustrated, she quickly excused herself and made her way through the lobby of the gallery, glancing around before following the older man outside through a side door that led into an alley.
Making sure that they were alone, Giles turned to Buffy with a disbelieving expression. “What were you doing?”
“What?” she asked in confusion.
“You were talking to Spike Reed.”
Buffy’s eyes widened as she glanced over her shoulder, looking at the door of the gallery. “I-I didn’t recognize him…the hair and the…are you sure that was him?”
“Positive,” the older man replied. “What did he want?”
“He was…he was flirting with me,” she said softly.
“Flirting with you?” he repeated, waiting until Buffy nodded. “And there was no sign of O’Neill?”
“No,” she said, shaking her head, turning back to her boss. “But those two don’t exactly run in the same circles, so they’ll probably avoid each other, won’t they?” she asked, still mildly surprised at the newest revelations of the night.
“More than likely,” Giles said, glancing at the door. “If Reed is planning something, O’Neill will want to stay away.”
“So tonight is a bust?”
“Not necessarily,” he said, a slight smile coming over him as he formulated a plan.
“I don’t like that look, Giles,” Buffy said, narrowing her eyes as her nerves took over.
“Instead of infiltrating O’Neill…I think we’re going to have a change of plans.”
“This is not good,” she muttered with a sigh.
* * * * *
“And since Reed has apparently taken a liking to Agent Summers, we are having a change in the schedule,” Giles informed the group of people the next day as he slowly cleaned his glasses with a soft cloth. “Angelus O’Neill will still be on the agenda, but he’s to be pushed farther back.”
“I don’t like this, sir,” Buffy said, shaking her head. “O’Neill is the cold-blooded murderer and seemingly bigger danger. Wouldn’t it make sense to go after him first?”
“O’Neill is in Europe,” Giles replied, gaining the undivided attention of everyone in the room. “London, apparently, which pushes Reed up on the priority list. And since we have a clear window of opportunity, Agent Summers will go undercover and work from the inside. Any questions?” he asked, looking around the room at the group of FBI agents. “Very well. Meeting adjourned.”
Nervously chewing on her thumbnail, Buffy stayed where she was while everyone filed out of the room.
“You needn’t worry, Buffy,” Giles said, straightening some papers on his desk before walking over to her and handing her a thick file. “Everything you need to know on Spike Reed. He’s a dangerous criminal, but I feel safer assigning you to this than waiting around for Angelus to show his face. So what’s the problem?”
“I was prepared for Angelus,” she replied. “I don’t know anything about Spike Reed.”
“That’s what the file is for,” he said, gesturing to the folder that was now resting in front of her.
“Thanks, Giles,” she murmured, looking up at her surrogate father, the man responsible for her having a career in the Bureau. Picking up the file, she pushed her chair back with trepidation, listening to it scraping along the floor, before walking out the door.
Running a hand through her hair as she took a deep breath, Buffy looked at the heavy file before proceeding to walk to her office. Nearly slamming the door, she closed her eyes as she leaned against it.
‘How are you going to do this?’ she asked herself. She didn’t know Spike, but she knew his reputation and she knew that being moderately attracted to a criminal at first glance was not a good thing. ‘At least I can fight that,’ she thought. And opening the file was a good way to remind her of that fact as she skimmed over the first page.
One of the most brutal businessmen in the world, William Reed (alias ‘Spike’) is a resourceful and cunning criminal- he’s never served time, though charges have been brought forward on four prior occasions. Once he starts something, he doesn’t stop until everything in his path is neutralized. Rich, powerful, and not afraid to buy what he wants- businesses, material possessions, or people, he is a millionaire many times over. After inheriting his money from his family, he proceeded to take the family business and turn it into something even larger. Known as ‘William the Bloody’ in the business world (the name perhaps originated in his dealings with the crime world as well, but that has never been proven) he is a ruthless manipulator.
A very dangerous individual and a known, but not convicted, murderer, he has allegedly killed several who are attached, in some form, to Angelus O’Neill. The two of them used to be friends, but frequently get more pleasure out of hating each other.
A fan of the Impressionist painters, and while he has legally purchased a large number of pieces, he seems to enjoy stealing them more so than owning them. Often described as cold-blooded and unfeeling…
Closing the file, Buffy threw it on her desk, not wanting to read anymore.
“You’re an FBI agent,” she said, needing to give herself a pep talk. “You can handle yourself with men twice your size, so don’t get a jelly belly now. You finally got an assignment that’s important.”
Hearing the knock on the door, Buffy turned and opened it, mildly surprised when she saw Giles on the other side.
“Here’s the information for your identity,” he said, handing her a small file folder.
“I kind of already told him my name is Buffy Summers,” she said with a sheepish expression.
“I thought as much. You’re listed in the Bureau as Elizabeth Summers, so there’s not much of a connection. I’m sure he will or has already had your background checked out, and because we successfully covered your identity when we thought you were going after O’Neill, it won’t be a problem. All of the normal information is still relevant- this includes your passport and other documents for the name ‘Buffy Summers’.”
“Independent art dealer, extraordinaire,” she said with a nod, confirming the cover story that most people knew.
“When do you plan to make contact?”
“Soon,” she said with a nod. “I’ll use my cell phone from home- there’s too much of a chance that another agent might walk in on me here and I don’t want to worry about my cover being ruined.”
“That’s fine. The arrangements have been made for a tracking device. It won’t have a video or audio feed at this time. Reed is a smart man, and I’d prefer him to be completely comfortable with you,” he said, turning toward the door.
“And kill me,” Buffy filled in.
“You know the odds of that happening,” Giles said, not sparing her a glance.
“Giles?” she said, drawing his attention back to her as she nervously fidgeted by her desk. “I’m supposed to get into a relationship with him…this guy is one of the most powerful men in the country.”
“All the more reason why we need to take him down, Buffy,” he replied.
“What happens if he wants to take me on his private jet and fly us out of the country somewhere? You know he spends most of his time in London, and it’s not like that’s my comfort zone. If I don’t want to blow my cover, I have to go, and if I go…I’m alone.”
“Buffy,” he said in a gentle tone. “You’re one of the most capable agents I know. If anyone can handle what Spike Reed can dish out, it would be you.”
“And what if he ‘dishes out’ his gun and that’s the end of it?”
Giles stayed quiet for a moment before gently patting Buffy’s shoulder. “He would never kill an innocent woman.”
“What about an undercover FBI agent?” she asked, her jaw clenching as she looked at him.
“Very easy solution to that problem, Agent Summers,” Giles said, reverting back to her boss.
“And what’s that, sir?” she asked quietly.
“Don’t get caught.”