Things That Go Bump in the Night by Slaymesoftly

ReviewsRating: NC-17

Summary: Set several years post NFA, Buffy has moved on, is no longer in mourning for her two dead vampires. Then Dawn calls her for some help and she finds something she never expected to.

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Chapter 10

For as long as it took her to walk to the kitchen, put the cup in the sink and return to the library, he was silent – his mouth open and his eyes staring at nothing. When the couch dipped under her weight, he focused on her again.

“Funny,” he said finally. “You don’t look like a ghost.”

“Nope. Not a ghost. Just me. Seems like I’m not much better than you are at staying dead.”

He nodded. “Seems like. So, that must have been the highlight of my life,” he added with a wry smile. “Losin’ the girl I loved just when she was beginning to trust me…” He froze and stared at her. “You don’t think that’s my unfinished business, do you? That you had to jump? Did I fail you somehow? Was I supposed to keep that from happening?”

Buffy shook her head vigorously.

“No, don’t think that! We settled that argument a long time ago. You did your best, I did my best -- we just didn’t quite manage to stop Glory in time. You got thrown off the tower trying to save Dawn. I did what I had to do to save the world.”

“It was your job,” he said softly.

“It was. It is. It’s what we do, us heroes. We save the world. Sometimes we die.”

“If you’re not a ghost, who or what am I talking to? Know you’re not a vampire.”

“No.” Buffy sighed and shrugged. “I got resurrected the old fashioned way – witchy friend, black magic, scary spell, wake up in coffin, crawl out of grave wondering where Heaven went…I’m pretty much the same me I was before. Not exactly, but close enough; only your chip knew the difference.”

He raised his eyebrows, but when she didn’t elaborate, he nodded. His eyes shone with sympathy as he said, “That must have been a rough go – the transition from Heaven to Hellmouth. You’d have to be a bloody strong person to get through something like that without going mad.”

“I had some help,” she whispered, giving him a tremulous smile. “Somebody who wouldn’t nag me to feel better, who didn’t have anything to do with bringing me back and wasn’t standing around waiting to be thanked. Somebody who let me work out my anger and pain whenever I needed to…”

Understanding dawned. “Now we’re to the part where you start watching me put my pants on,” he said with a nod. “That’s what you meant by helping you forget something. You turned to me to forget about being alive.”

“I turned to you to help me deal with being alive,” she corrected. “I was numb. You helped me learn to feel.”

“And when you could feel again, you left me. Have I got that right?”

“I did. I was…I wasn’t ready to be anybody’s girlfriend. I was still trying to be Buffy. And still trying to make everybody happy.” She reached over and put a hand on his. “Everybody except you. I took you for granted. Another one of the things I owe you some apologies for.”

He shook his head. “I’m thinkin’ there’s more to this than you’re telling me, pet.” He looked at her shrewdly. “Did I go get my soul after you broke up with me? Was that a big deal to you? That I didn’t have a soul?”

Buffy stared at him with her mouth open, then remembered he’d told her that most of what he knew about slayers and vampires had come from his conversations with the watcher trainees he met. Some things he’d just seemed to know instinctively - like how to fight, how to kill the few vampires that had tried to move in; and he’d recognized the slayers’ supernatural power. But he hadn’t known what they were or what to call them until he’d talked with a few of them and their future watchers.

He had no idea how important it was that he’d fought to get his soul back. Or what it had meant to her. She studied his face for a minute, but no trace of sarcasm could be seen in his eyes. She slid off the couch into an imitation of his earlier position, kneeling in front of him and taking one hand in hers.

“I thought it was,” she began. “I threw it at you all the time – the fact that you were soulless. Even after it was obvious that you didn’t need one to love, I said you did. So, yeah, it was a big deal. Not so much that you had one when you came back; but that you got it. For me. Because you thought I needed it. It was probably the most…” She took a deep breath. “Nobody has ever loved me like that. Ever.”

He stared down at her, unconsciously squeezing the hand that was still holding his.

“Buffy—I wish I … I can’t be him, luv. I think you’re a powerful slayer and a bloody amazing woman, but I don’t remember loving you. I wish I did.”

“I know,” she said, scrambling to her feet and retreating to her end of the couch. “I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable. I just wanted you to understand what a big deal it was.”

“I think I get it,” he said with a wry smile. “Vampire plus soul equals big deal to Buffy.” He stood up and stretched. “What do you say we save the rest of the history lesson till tomorrow and go outside for some exercise?”

“Exercise?”

“Yeah, you know. Run, jump, play…pretend I’m still evil and try to slay me?”

“You want to spar with me?”

“Yeah. If you want to call it that. Or, we could really fight – we seem to be pretty good at getting each other riled up. But I don’t think your heart would be in it; and I know mine wouldn’t. Don’t want to hurt you, just want to see you in action again.”

“Okay.” Buffy bounced to her feet. “I could use some more exercise.”

Without warning, she shoved him hard enough to knock him back onto the couch and bolted for the door while he was swearing and jumping to his feet.

“Last one out’s a bloodsucking Englishman!”

“Oh, that’s it, Slayer. You’re going to pay for that one!”

Buffy’s giggle floated up to him as he paused on the porch to locate her in the darkness. When he could see exactly where she was standing, still giggling, but on her toes and ready to move, he leapt off the porch, flipping over to land on his feet right in front of her.

“Whoa! That’s a new one,” she said with admiration, ducking under the punch he threw. “You’ve been practicing.”

“Not the vamp you knew,” he reminded her. “Might have a whole collection of new tricks.”

“This could be a lot of fun.”

As she spoke, she pivoted and flipped herself over his head, not landing in time to plant a kick on his ass as she’d intended, but catching him hard on the hip as he spun to follow her movement.

“Ow!”

“Oops?”

“I’ll give you ‘oops’, Slayer,” he growled, tackling her to the ground. She rolled as they fell, using his momentum to throw him off to the side. Breaking his grip on her arms, she sprang to her feet, dancing out of his reach and giggling. The sound of her laughter did nothing to decrease the growls coming from his chest. His expression when he kipped to his feet was thunderous.

“I really didn’t mean to do that,” she said with mock meekness; then her laughter broke out again. “I was aiming for your ass.”

“Gonna kick my arse were you?” His expression softened in spite of himself as he enjoyed her obvious glee in his discomfiture. “Maybe it’ll be your arse that’s stinging when we’re done here. Might just turn you over my knee and give you the spankin’ you deserve.”

“Ooooh. Promises, promises,” she cooed, backing out of reach while he was recovering from his astonishment.

“Wasn’t meant that way, pet,” he grunted, fading away and moving behind her. “But it bloody well is now.”

“Hey! You’re cheating!”

Buffy yelped as he took advantage of his invisibility to pinch her butt and retreat quickly. Turning serious, she extended her senses to follow his predatory circling. Much as she had when they first fought, she tracked him using her finely honed ability to sense any disturbance in the air and her slayer-enhanced sensitivity to the presence of the supernatural.

She felt the brush of air against her face and ducked away from the anticipated punch, only to find that Spike had feinted the jab. Her movement away from the fake punch put her right into the path of his other hand, which seized her shoulder with an iron grip. She quickly found herself spun around and pinned against a muscular chest.

“Gotcha!” he growled, pretending to bite her neck with his blunt human teeth.

Instead of struggling or throwing her head back into his face, Buffy fell against him, allowing herself to enjoy the arms that she’d thought gone forever. She sighed and relaxed against his body, feeling his growing erection nudging her back. She didn’t speak, just turning her head to allow him better access to her neck and rubbing her cheek against his shoulder.

“Speaking of cheating…” His voice was hoarse and his arms tightened involuntarily. “Christ, you feel good…” His mock bite had quickly changed to a mixture of kissing and nibbling as he reacted to her whimpered response.

His hands slid around her waist and made their way under her shirt, stroking her skin and, eventually, shocking her out of her lustful daze.

“No,” she breathed. “No,” she repeated more forcefully. “We can’t do this. You can’t do this…”

“Pretty sure I can,” he growled, sucking on the skin of her neck and sending shivers throughout her body. “If it turns out I can’t, then I’m officially in Hell.”

“No,” she explained, moving away now that he was no longer holding her tightly. “I can’t do this to you. I can’t take advanta-“

“Buffy. Trust me when I tell you that I want you to take advantage of me. Want it so much it’s painful. Anyway, could just as well say I’m takin’ advantage of you. Knowin’ you have feelings for--”

“Love,” Buffy said firmly. “You can say it. The you who remembers me. I loved him.”

“Right. An’ I’m not him, am I? So if anybody’s taking advantage of anybody, it’s me taking advantage of the way you feel about the man who owned this body.”

In spite of his protestations, he had relaxed his grip and allowed her to step away. He touched her shoulder and turned her around to face him.

“Want you more than I can say, Buffy. But I don’t want you doing something you’re going to regret.” He dropped his hands and stepped back. “Tellin’ you right now, though – if you don’t want this to happen again, we can’t fight each other. There’s something about fighting with you makes me…”

She nodded. “I know. This is my fault. I’ve been doing things that I know turn you on; and I’ve been all flirty and innuendoish. I just…I want you. You have no idea how much I’d like to--” She took a deep, shuddering breath, her eyes sending a wordless apology. “But I want to do it with the Spike who loves me. And that’s not you. Not right now, anyway.”

“Fair enough, luv. Like you said, you keep your hormones under control and I’ll put a muzzle on mine.”

They stood, only a few feet apart, neither sure what to do about the awkward silence. Finally, Buffy gave a small laugh.

“I think I should probably take my hormones home and give them a good talking to.” She turned to leave, muttering, “There could be cold water involved…”

“Yeah, think there may be a cold shower in my future, now that you mention it. Or a good wank.” He cocked his head and smiled at Buffy’s retreating back. “Could be both.”

“Pig.”

“Oink, oink.”

If he noticed her sudden gasp it his normal response to being called a pig, he didn’t mention it, only watched her leave the lawn. When she was safely outside his haunting area, she stopped and turned around.

“If I come back in the daytime, will you be awake? Or would you rather I waited till dark?”

“No, Slayer. Come back whenever you want to. I’ll catch some kip tonight so you won’t have to come downstairs where I’m naked…in my bed…all alone…”

“It’s not working,” she warned, laughing at his disappointed face. “Much as I like you naked, it’s not happening. I expect to find you awake, dressed and upstairs waiting for me.”

“Fine,” he grumbled. “Dressed and upstairs. Got it.” He watched Buffy wave and turn away again. “Be careful walking back, luv. Might be something dangerous about tonight.”

Her laughter floated back on the cool night air. “In this town? I’m one of the most dangerous things in it. Remember?”


~~~~~~~~~

She entered the school and went directly to her room, shedding clothes as she went. In spite of her words to Spike, she didn’t take a cold shower, but put on pajamas and got into her bed, determined to get enough sleep that she could get up early and shop before going back. Her sleep was a combination of oblivion and dreams of Spike, Angel, ghosts in white sheets moaning and groaning, and a dragon.

~~~~~~~~~~

After a quick breakfast with Dawn, during which Buffy filled her in on what she’d told Spike the night before, she stopped by Giles’ office on her way to shop again.

“Ah. Good morning, Buffy. I wasn’t expecting to see you so early.”

Giles smiled when she flushed uncomfortably.

“It’s not like I’m planning to move in there,” she huffed. “I just needed a place to sleep for that one night. I’m not going to make it a habit, you know.”

“I would hope not; but one never knows…”

Changing the subject, Buffy asked, “When is Willow due back from her retreat with the coven?”

“Tomorrow,” he responded. “Why do you ask?” The suspicious look on his face told her that he already knew the answer.

“I want her to see Spike. To see if she can tell if it’s a spell or if he’s just stuck being a ghost for some other reason.”

He nodded. “That seems reasonable. I would think Willow would be able to pick up on any magic lingering in the atmosphere of the house.”

“That’s all I need right now. If she thinks there is, then I might be paying a visit to the nearest Wolfram and Hart offices.”


~~~~~~~~~~~



Buffy left Giles muttering over the inadvisability of entering the offices of a notorious demon-catering law firm, and walked into the town to pick up some supplies for Spike’s house. She found an older building containing a clean, bright market and began filling her basket with items she thought might be useful.

Bottled water, some bananas and apples, a tin of biscuits and a packet of crackers were added to the canned nuts that she’d already placed in her basket. She chewed on her lip as she stood in front of a display of toothbrushes, then shook her head and moved on.

Nah. I might stick some floss in my pocket, but bringing a toothbrush is just too much.

She paid the friendly woman at the check out, saying politely, “Your building is lovely. It looks like it’s been here a long time.”

“Oh yes,” the woman replied with a nod. “Our family has been providing the village with food and other supplies for over two hundred years. Of course, the area has grown tremendously and there are other markets now, but ours is the oldest.”

She handed Buffy her purchases, putting them into a cloth bag with ‘Brown’s Market’ written across the side. “Here you are, a nice ecologically sound bag for you to use when you come back. I hope it’s not too heavy for you,” she added, surveying Buffy’s small frame and comparing it to her own rather beefy arms.

“Oh, I’ll be fine,” Buffy said with a smile, easily picking the bag up by its handles and walking to the door. “But, thank you. I’ll be back.”

She strolled back through the town, admiring the neat front yards with their window boxes, colorful pots and gardens full of flowers. No matter how small or humble appearing the house might be, it always had a colorful and immaculate front yard. She couldn’t help comparing them with Spike’s much larger, but so much less cared for home and wishing she could do something about it.

It’s not like the Slayer handbook covered how to take care of English gardens. I wouldn’t even know where to start.

She got to the house and knocked once before walking in and going straight to the kitchen. Seeing no sign of Spike and that the door to his bedroom was shut, she put her bag down on the counter and went to the door that led to the backyard. Once outside, she almost fell through the rotted wood of the steps, only her grip on the doorknob keeping her from sinking through the hole her foot had made. She recovered her balance and jumped gracefully over the two wooden steps to land on a barely visible paving stone.

Buffy followed the overgrown path until she tired of the twigs and branches of shrubs catching on her clothes, then turned back to the house to find Spike standing in the doorway watching her. She waved and began to walk faster as she saw his lips curve into a welcoming smile. He held out his hands when she got to the end of the path and she reached into the doorway for them without hesitation, allowing him to effortlessly pull her up and over the broken steps and into the shade of the kitchen.

“You didn’t get hurt there, did you, Slayer?” he asked, gesturing to the broken step.

“No, I didn’t get hurt – but I think I broke your steps.”

“S’pose, if I wasn’t a ghost and if I could actually go out there, I’d have to think about fixing them. As it is, it’ll help keep the riffraff out.”

“Riff raff?”

He gestured towards the front of the house.

“Somebody jus’ came in. And since you were out here…”

As one, they turned to walk to the front hall. Spike held up a hand and halted her at the entrance to the library.

“Let’s find out who or what it is before we spring a slayer on him, yeah?”

Buffy nodded reluctantly and remained just far enough outside the doorway to hear without being seen. Spike walked a few steps away and stopped, leaning casually against the doorjamb. Buffy was sure that, had he been able to, he would have been lighting a cigarette for effect.

“Lookin’ for someone?”

“Yah!” The voice from inside the room dropped from its initial high-pitched yelp to a more normal tone. “Are you Mr. Pratt?”

“I’m the ghost of William Pratt. Who the bloody hell are you?”

“I…I’m John Smith, of Smith, Nelson and Phelps, acting on behalf of Wolfram and Hart of London.”

Buffy stiffened at the mention of the lawyers she was now convinced had something to do with Spike’s condition.

“And exactly what sort of acts are you planning to perform on their behalf?” Spike asked, his voice not quite a growl, but close enough to increase the other man’s obvious nervousness.

“I’m not sure. I was to come to the house and ascertain that you were still here and that you were alone. And I was to ask you--” His voice broke off as Buffy came around the corner to stand beside Spike.

“And if he’s not alone?” she asked in her best slayer voice. “What do your sleazy bosses care if he’s alone or not?”

“I don’t know!” Now facing, not only a man who was calling himself a ghost, but a small blonde American girl who bore an uncanny resemblance to the photo that had been e mailed to his office, his natural inclination to retreat became overwhelming. Unfortunately for him, the only exit from the room was being blocked by the two people in question – neither one of which appeared to be interested in allowing him to leave. “I was merely asked to come to the house in the daytime and ascertain if Mr. Pratt was still residing here.”

“I am. You’ve seen it. Time to go.”

The man’s eyes shifted to Buffy, darting away when she narrowed hers and stepped into the room.

“Why are you here instead of someone from Wolfram and Hart?” she asked, her voice hard and cold. “Why did they send a minion?”

“A wha-?” He cleared his throat. “I’m extending a professional courtesy, that’s all. Their nearest office is in London and this has saved someone a train ride.”

“So, you don’t know anything about why Sp- Mr Pratt is here?”

“No.” He shook his head vigorously. “I’m merely seeking to obtain the information they requested.”

“Well,” Buffy stepped even closer, smiling in an unfriendly manner when he involuntarily backed up, “you go back and tell them to expect a visit from Buffy Summers. And tell them she wants answers. You got that? Do I need to write it down for you?”

Shaking his head again, he promised to pass the message on. Spike moved to the side and the man scuttled out the door, jumped into his car and drove very quickly back to his office. Where he immediately dialed a number and assured the person on the other end that he had seen Mr Pratt and also the girl in the photograph. In a trembling voice, he added that Miss Summers was planning a visit to their offices and that she was a ‘very intimidating young lady’.

Spike watched from the library as Buffy followed the lawyer to the door and watched him drive away. When she could no longer see his car, she turned around and walked back to the waiting vampire. It was hard for her to think of him as a ghost anymore, now that she’d felt his arms around her and the solidity of his body behind her.

“That tears it. I’m going to find Wolfram and Hart and introduce them to a slayer. A pissed off slayer.”

He laughed and gazed at her with admiration. Her eyes were flashing with anger and her color was high as she paced back and forth in front of him.

“You’re gorgeous when you’re brassed off,” he said without thinking. “No wonder I kept tryin’ to kill you. Probably just wanted to keep you stirred up all the time.”

His heartfelt praise for her beauty interrupted her angry pacing and she stared at him in surprise and dismay.

“I thought we were going to keep our hormones safely tucked away on ice somewhere?”

“Oh? Did I say that out loud? Sorry, luv. Didn’t mean to. You just look so delicious…”

“Spike!”

“Fine. One a scale of one to ten, you’re a three. Does that make you happier?” He glared at her and gritted his teeth. “If you don’t want me commenting on your looks, how about trying to show up here in something other than tight pants and shirts that show your tits?”

He stomped into the library and threw himself down on the couch, taking up so much of it that it was obvious he didn’t want Buffy to sit near him -- which wasn’t a problem, as she stomped in behind him and stood in front of the couch with her hands on her hips.

“So, you’re saying what? That I have to dress like a nun so that you’ll keep it in your pants? Is that what you’re saying?”

“I’m saying, you come here dressed like you’re coming to see a man you want to please, so don’t be getting on your high horse when it turns out it works. And trust me, Slayer, it’s stayin’ in my pants. Don’t you worry about that. You’ve seen me without them for the last time.”

“Good!”

“Fine!”

Buffy turned around and marched through the library door.

“Where are going?” Spike jumped to his feet as she ignored him and went into the kitchen.

“I’m putting my food away,” she muttered, annoyed that the only task she could come up with involved something so domestic. She set the water on the counter and tucked everything else in one of the cupboards. “Don’t you have a refrigerator?”

“Don’t need one,” he growled back, still sounding sulky. “Now where are you going?” He followed Buffy’s stiff back as she stomped past him and towards the front hall.

“I’m going to London,” she said. “I’ll be back in a day or so.”

“A day or so?”

“Yes. Maybe I’ll buy myself some baggy pants or a granny dress while I’m there. I’ll see you when I get back.”

Without another word, she left the house, slamming the door as she went and leaving behind a very bewildered ghost. Trapped in the house by both the daylight and his reluctance to appear to be following her, he vented his anger on the wall behind him, putting his fist through it in a very satisfactory, if painful fashion.

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