Criminal Games – Part 2

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William ‘Spike’ Reed is the most successful art thief on record- and he’s never been caught. As one of the most powerful men in the country, he has managed to elude arrest for years while still maintaining a prominent status. When FBI Agent Buffy Summers is assigned to go undercover to capture him, she’s entered a game that she’s not sure she can win.

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Chapter 21: Fragile Allusions

Sitting in the darkened room, Spike never looked up when a sliver of light slid along the floor as the door opened.

“Leave,” he said, his voice escaping the shadows and causing Ethan to pause as he entered the room.

“I know this isn’t the way you wanted-”

“Don’t need a bleedin’ pep talk, Ethan. Get out.”

“You’ve been locked in here for days.”

“And when I need something, I’ll let you know,” he growled, never turning around, waiting until the light was extinguished before taking another long drink from the bottle of alcohol in his hand, trying to stop the flood of memories. Trying to forget the image of her face. Trying to forget the feeling of his heart breaking when he found out who she really was.

“We found something,” Ethan said, nervously fidgeting with the folder in his hands.

“Found something on who?” Spike asked, walking into the hotel room, casting a quick glance at the view of the Philadelphia skyline.

“Your lover girl,” he said, raising his eyebrows as he tapped the file against his hand. “Or more accurately… her mother.”

Not wanting to look at the information, Spike walked over to the bar, pouring himself a tall drink. “Alright,” he said after taking a long swallow, never looking away from a point on the wall, listening to Ethan pull some papers out of the folder.

“Joyce Robertson, married once to Hank Summers, divorced seventeen years later. She had one daughter- Elizabeth Summers.”

Taking another drink, Spike finally turned to look at the man behind him. “So Buffy is a nickname,” he said with a shrug, feeling relieved that it wasn’t something more serious.

“Elizabeth Summers… she’s not an art dealer, Spike,” he said with a sigh, wishing that he could have relayed the information over the phone. “She’s an FBI agent.”

Shattering the crystal glass in his hand, Spike didn’t notice as the pieces fell to the floor, his gaze unfocused, his breathing shallow.

“I’ll leave you alone,” Ethan said, walking toward the door.

“Abort the plan,” Spike said, his voice a low whisper. “Get the plane ready.”

“I don’t think it’s such a good idea to go after a federal agent, Spike.”

“I’ll be the judge of that.”

Closing his eyes at the memories, he took a deep breath. Trying not to think about how he’d told her he loved her. How he confessed who he really was moments before he left for Philadelphia, only to have any fragile allusions of a dream with her shattered when Ethan showed up.

Angrily throwing his head back against his chair, he fought the tears in his eyes, hating the weak side that she seemed to bring out in him.

“Buffy…”

* * * * *

“Give me my next assignment, Giles,” she said, her voice coming out stronger than she intended as she followed her boss through the building, the tone of her voice causing him to turn around and look at her.

“You’re not ready,” he said before turning and walking into his office.

“Bullshit!” Buffy cried, following him through the door and slamming it behind her, knowing that she was walking on thin ice. “I’m ready. I’ve had a few days off and I’m fine. It was a glitch- all fixed now,” she finished, forcing a chipper tone.

“Buffy, you fell in love with a criminal. A criminal that we now don’t have enough hard evidence to arrest or even detain for a short period of time. You need a break.”

“It was a game,” she said, swallowing as she tried to convince herself of that fact. “It was all an act. I’m better now- I mean, look at me,” she continued, holding her arms out to her sides. “Betty’s ready. Color me committed.”

Studying her for a minute, Giles finally sighed. “Alright,” he said in exasperation. “Xander and his team are working to take down Warren Meers in the near future.”

“The jewelry thief?”

“That’s him,” he said with a nod. “There will be an operation tomorrow night at the restaurant inside of the Sunnydale Museum.”

“But… he’s a jewelry thief,” Buffy repeated in confusion. “What does he want in a museum?”

“One of the largest diamonds in the country that is currently on display,” he replied, tossing a brochure in front of her that displayed the attraction.

“Oh, you’ve gotta be kidding me,” she said with a smirk. “He actually thinks he’s gonna swipe that thing?”

“He’s extremely cocky. With any luck, that will be his downfall.”

“Count me in,” Buffy said, walking toward the door.

“Buffy-”

“I’m doing this, Giles,” she said firmly, looking him in the eyes.

Closing the door behind her, she walked through the building until she reached the small office at the end of a hall. Knocking on it as she opened the door, she leaned against the doorframe. “Hey, Xand. Just thought I’d let you know that I’m helping tomorrow.”

“Already?” Xander asked in surprise. “I thought you’d want a little more time off.”

“I didn’t want any time off,” she corrected. “I’m ready for a little more hands-on action.”

“Can’t get much more ‘hands-on’ than Spike Reed,” he muttered, shuffling through some files on his desk.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked, a hard edge to her voice.

Looking up from the paper he was reading, Xander gave her a concerned look. “Nothing, Buff. Just meant that Spike has a violent reputation- you probably had your work cut out for you.”

“Spike never laid a hand on me, Xander,” she said in a low voice, looking at the floor, trying to forget the image of him pointing a gun at her. “What’s going on tomorrow?” she asked, hoping to change the subject.

“Everything is pretty much in place. Faith is going to act as… ‘bait’, if you will. You can go as her backup. If she has to blow her cover, for whatever reason, be ready to step in.”

“So basically I sit back and do nothing,” Buffy said with a sigh, looking up at the ceiling.

“Giles will be there,” Xander replied with a smile. “You can always talk to him.”

* * * * *

“Ethan!”

Practically stumbling out of the room later that night, Spike walked down the hall, blearily realizing that his head of security was standing in front of him.

“Where is she?”

“You’re not serious,” Ethan said in disbelief.

“Never been more serious, mate.”

“Spike, if you think you can just start a relationship with her or pick up where you left off…”

“Did I say I wanted her back?” he replied in a deadly tone. “Now… find out where she is.”

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