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 11

Buffy’s anger carried her all the way to the school and evaporated only when she reached the administrative areas. Rather than tell Giles what she planned, she talked to Marie, the watcher-cum-administrative assistant who, contrary to what Giles preferred to think, actually ran the new Watchers Council offices. Buffy explained what she needed, and within fifteen minutes, she had the address of Wolfram and Hart’s offices, a rail schedule and a promise not to tell Giles or Dawn until Buffy had time to be well on her way to London.

She ran to her room to pack a small overnight bag, and then ran out of the building without seeing anyone who might ask her where she was going. Using her speed, she was in town and at the railway station in time to catch the next train into London. Buffy settled into her seat and gazed out the window, wondering what she thought she was going to do when she reached the city and the offices of what she knew was a very powerful organization.

~~~~~~~~

It was several hours before Dawn and Giles began to realize that Buffy was not around, nor had she been seen or heard from since Julie had spotted her making an unexpected return from Spike’s. When Marie overheard them speculating on what might have happened to her, she spoke up and told them that Buffy had gone to London.

“By herself? And, why? Why would she go to London without me?” Dawn’s voice wavered between worried and whiny.

Giving her titular boss an apologetic shrug, Marie handed Giles the paper upon which she’d originally scribbled down the address of Wolfram and Hart’s London office.

“I don’t know why she was going – although she did look a bit angry, now that I think of it – but I do know where.”

Giles gave a long-suffering sigh. “I imagine this has something to do with Spike and the house,” he said. “I hope she knows what she’s getting herself into.”

Casting a glance at the late afternoon sky, Dawn announced she was going to walk to the house to see if Spike knew why Buffy was going to Wolfram and Hart. Giles stopped himself before the objection was even out of his mouth, simply saying, “Take somebody with you, then. Preferably a slayer.”

Dawn agreed and went to find Julie. It took her several minutes and a promise that she wouldn’t have to fight the ghost, before the other girl agreed to be her bodyguard for the night. They had a quick meal and then made the walk up the hill to the house.

“I should get extra credit for all the times I’ve hiked up here,” Dawn grumbled. “It’s not like I’m a slayer and can just run up and down hills all day long without getting tired.”

“It’s good for you,” Julie said with just a trace of a giggle. “You’ll need to be strong to keep up with your slayer, you know. When you get one,” she added.

“I wish Giles would let us choose for ourselves,” Dawn said, changing the subject slightly. “He’s all ‘you need to be compatible, not just best friends’.”

“I know,” her friend sighed. “I soo want you to be my watcher. It would be awesome! We’d have sleepovers, and go shopping, and go to clubs together, and--”

“And that’s why he won’t let us,” Dawn responded with a laugh. “He knows we’d be playing all the time instead of researching and slaying.”

They approached the house, watching carefully for any sign of Buffy or the ghost, but all was still. Motioning for Julie to remain behind her on the porch, Dawn knocked on the door and then pushed it open.

“Spike? Are you here? You are here, aren’t you? I mean, you can’t be anywhere else, so you must be--”

“I’m here, Watcher.” His voice came from the library and Dawn stepped into the doorway to find him slouched on the couch, staring at the ceiling. “What d’y want?”

“I want to talk to you about Buffy,” Dawn answered. “But, I brought somebody with me and I need to know if…”

“’s not that wanker that was going to shag you on my couch, is it?”

“No!” she huffed, drawing herself up to her full height. “But if I had brought him with me again, I would expect you to be polite this time!”

“You’d expect that, would you?” he asked, raising a skeptical eyebrow in familiar fashion.

“Well, maybe not expect it but I would insist on it,” she said, sticking her chin out.

“Are you in the habit of ‘insisting’ on things with me? How’d that usually work out for you?”

“You’d be surprised,” she said, relaxing her posture and smiling at him. “I usually just whined and begged or threatened to cry…”

He rolled his eyes and sat up.

“So, what are you doing here, then? Big Sis isn’t here.”

“I know. That’s what I want to talk to you about. But, I need to know if it’s okay for Julie to come in without fighting you.”

“Julie?”

“She’s a slayer. One of the ones you kicked out. Giles said I had to bring somebody with me and I asked her, but she’s afraid you won’t let her in.”

He waved his hand in the air and dropped his head back against the top of the couch.

“Don’t give a flying fuck what she does. Tell her to come in. I’m not goin’ to fight her tonight.”

“Oooookay. I’m sensing that your charming mood has something to do with Buffy’s disappearing into the wilds of London this afternoon?”

Instead of waiting for an answer to her basically rhetorical question, Dawn walked to the front door and brought an anxious Julie in with her.

“It’s fine,” Dawn said impatiently as the slayer looked around with apprehension. “He’s too busy being pissed off at Buffy to worry about you.”

“I heard that!”

“I don’t care,” Dawn said as she walked into the library and sat in one of the big chairs. “It’s true, isn’t it? You guys had a fight about something and now she’s gone off to find Wolfram and Hart.”

“It’s really none of your business, is it?”

“If my sister, who is here and met you because of me, is going into danger by herself because of something you did or said, it is my business.”

Julie, meanwhile, had walked silently into the room and was sitting rigidly in the other big chair. Spike cocked his head and looked her up and down, then his eyes lit up with recognition.

“Aha! The crybaby!” he said. “Are you getting any better?”

“I’m trying,” she muttered.

“Well, good for you, then.” He nodded, then dismissed her and turned back to Dawn. “What do you mean she went into danger by herself? She didn’t take any other slayers with her? And she’s just checking out a soddin’ law firm – how dangerous can it be?”

“Didn’t she tell you anything about what happened while you were with Angel in LA?”

“We’re still working on the ‘she quit shaggin’ me, so I went and got a soul’ part of the story,” he growled. “Why don’t you fill me in. What was I doing hanging out with my grandsire?”

Dawn chewed her lip. “I don’t want Buffy to get mad at me, but…you should know what we know.” Mind made up, she leaned forward and began, “You were stuck in an amulet that--- well, I’ll let Buffy tell you about that; all you need to know is that you were stuck in it somehow after you burned up in Sunnydale.” She went on to tell him about Angel’s taking over the LA offices of Wolfram and Hart, then using his position to take down the Circle of the Black Thorn.

“You guys really, really pissed of the Senior Partners, and they sent this whole big army of demons and stuff against you – there was even a dragon – and you…you all…died. Or we thought you did, anyway.”

“Seems like I did,” he said fading out of sight and then back in again. “Tell me more about this amulet and about how I was a ghost when I came back from dying the first time.”

Dawn admitted that she knew very little about his time as a ghost, or after he became corporeal again. Glaring fiercely, she said, “That’s because, you asshole, you couldn’t be bothered to pick up a phone and tell the women who loved you that you weren’t gone anymore!”

“Was Buffy brassed off about that?”

“When she found out? After you were already dead again? Yeah, I think you could say that. She was royally pissed. But she was…” Dawn looked him in the eye. “She was also devastated. She thought you didn’t believe her when she told you she loved you. That it was her fault you stayed in LA and died with Angel.”

“Bloody hell,” he muttered. “No wonder she wasn’t sure if she was glad to see me. I was a stupid git.”

“Can’t argue with that. But I think she still loves you anyway.”

“She loves the man who loves her, pet. I’m not him. Not right now, anyway.”

“Oh, that reminds me. Willow – did she tell you about Willow?” At his nod, she went on quickly. “She’s coming back tomorrow and Buffy was going to bring her out to check for any magic residue or spells. She might be able to do something about it. She’s very powerful. I guess I could bring her up, if Buffy isn’t back yet.”

“Is she part of this coven that thinks I’m here until I fix something that’s bothering me? And that when I’ve done it, I’ll be gone?”

“She works with them. Yeah, she was the one who told Giles that’s what they thought might be going on.”

“Not going to try to mojo my memories back, is she? Don’t want them comin’ back unless the Slayer’s here.”

“No, I don’t think so. She’s just going to see if she can tell what’s keeping you here. If it’s magic or something else.”

Spike nodded. “Guess it would be a good thing to know.” He cocked his head at her. “Might’ve been a good thing to know before your sis went charging off to raise hell with some big organization that may or may not have had anything to do with it. Don’t suppose she thought about that, did she?”

“I couldn’t tell you,” Dawn responded. “She snuck out without telling anybody except the woman who helped her.” She looked at him and asked, “You wanna tell me what you guys had the fight about? What sent her off to a building full of demons and the guys who keep them out of demon jail?”

He shook his head. “The fight was none of your business. It was stupid. I was stupid. It was nothing. What sent her running off to London was the visitor we had.”

He filled Dawn in on what the local solicitor had said about who sent him, and Buffy’s reaction to it.

“I’ll admit, if she hadn’t been so brassed off at me, she may have given a little more thought to running off without back-up, but that’s the reason she’s paying a visit to London.”

“Well, all right. I guess all we can do is wait for her to come back and tell us what she found out. Giles says that if she isn’t back by tomorrow afternoon, he’s sending a group of slayers out to find her. He’s going to use the girls in London who have experience with stuff there.” She tilted her head and studied him for a minute, then said softly, “I’m glad you’re here, Spike. Even if you don’t remember me, I’m glad to see you.”

“Thank you, luv. I appreciate it. Why don’t you and your bodyguard here go on back to the school? Just in case Buffy’s come back or called or something.”

Dawn nodded and stood up, gesturing for Julie to go out the door in front of her.

“Okay. Maybe we can get you a cell phone or something so that people don’t have to keep running up here every time they need to talk to you. Now that we know who you are, and that you have…friends…at the school, you should be able to talk to us when you want to.”

“I don’t have ‘friends’ at that place, Watcher. I have an ex of some sort, her sister who thinks she can tell me what to do, and an old man who isn’t one of my fans, apparently. If Buffy wants me to have a phone, she can get me one. Other than that I don’t see any reason to talk to the people there any more than I ever have.”

He put his head back to resume staring at the ceiling and missed the pained expression that crossed Dawn’s face at his casual dismissal of her own relationship with him. He didn’t look up when they closed the door behind them and began the downhill walk back to the school.

~~~~~~~~~~~

After spending the night in a medium priced hotel Hey, go me for saving the council some money~ Buffy followed the directions the desk clerk had given her until she was standing in front of an old building with a large modern addition behind it.

“So this is where evil goes when it needs a lawyer,” she muttered, walking up the steps and into the lobby. Her senses immediately began screaming at her and she stared around, unconsciously reaching for the stake tucked into her waistband.

“Please, Miss Summers. Our customers are not attacking you; there is no reason for such overt hostility. Please, if you would follow me…”

The man who had spoken glided away and Buffy reluctantly followed him, glaring around in an attempt to separate the vampires from the humans present in the bustling lobby. Some were easy to spot, given away by their old fashioned clothes or the frightened expressions on their faces as they realized what she was. Others, she was sure probably were vamps, but they removed themselves from her path with the calm assurance of someone who knows that their safety is guaranteed.

They hadn’t gone far before the man leading the way opened a door and held it, gesturing for Buffy to go in. She peered around him suspiciously, but found nothing more frightening than a small office with an attractive, well-groomed woman sitting behind a desk. As Buffy watched, the woman rose to her feet and came over, holding her hand out and smiling warmly.

“Miss Summers! It’s a pleasure to meet you. You’re practically a legend in this firm, you know.”

A speechless Buffy automatically took the proffered hand and shook it, relieved to discover that it was the same temperature as her own.

“Please. Have a seat. Allow me to introduce myself; I am Alice Parker. Assistant to the Director of the London offices of Wolfram and Hart.” She waited untiI Buffy was sitting on the edge of one of the luxurious leather chairs, then continued: “I know you must have questions for me. What can I do for you?”

“Tell me why you’re interested in Spike; tell me why he’s a ghost and why he’s trapped in that house. And tell me where his memories went.”

“Ah, yes. Mr Pratt. One of our long-time customers – although less so lately.” She reached for the brown folder lying in the center of her otherwise clear desk and flipped it open. “Let me see, what do we have on…Oh. Oh dear. Yes. I see.”

She closed the folder and smiled at Buffy sympathetically.

“It appears that Mr Pratt--”

“Spike.”

“Mr,” she cleared her throat, “Spike was involved in some sort of insurrection in the California branch of our firm. The Senior Partners” --Buffy was sure the woman almost genuflected – “were quite angry. Apparently they had some means to capture his essence when he was slain along with the other disobedient employees, and they ordered that he be kept on this plane rather than allowed to move on as the other souled vampire had.

“How is he being kept here? And why is he in that house?”

“Well, it is his house. We’ve handled the upkeep for him for many years. It was probably the easiest place to anchor him.”

“Why take his memories?”

She shook her head. “That I can’t tell you. I would guess that it had something to do with the spell used to bind him; but that really isn’t my area of expertise. You’d have to speak to someone in our Magic Department.”

“I want him released.”

“Ah, yes. I was afraid that might be your request. Unfortunately, as much as we would enjoy doing a favor for the oldest living slayer, we cannot oblige you. The Senior Partners have ordered his binding to this plane and his house and that is that.”

Buffy stood up.

“Magic Department. Now.”

Miss Parker’s smile became a little forced.

“I see no reason for such a tone. I have been instructed to be as cooperative as is possible under the circumstances. We have no obligation to help you, you know.”

“You have an obligation to your clients to see that I don’t slay a whole lobby full of them before I leave.” The smile Buffy returned was not friendly.

With an exasperated sigh, Miss Parker pushed an intercom button and whispered, “She wants to talk to someone in the Magic Department. Yes. No. I did! She is quite rude.”

“She is standing right here,” Buffy growled.

“Very well.” The other woman nodded to the invisible voice on the other end of the phone and rang off. “Come with me, please.”

Buffy followed her down the corridor and into the newer part of the building where she was surprised to see vampires walking past sunny windows without even flinching. Then she remembered what Andrew had said in his raving about Angel’s offices at Wolfram and Hart and realized that the glass was impervious to the sun’s rays. She was shown into a modern laboratory and introduced to a handsome young man who gushed over her status until she held up her hand for quiet.

“Stop with the slobbering over me – we aren’t on the same side, remember?”

“But you’re famous! The only slayer to have two souled vampires fighting over her; the only one who inspired one of those vampires to go to seek his soul for her; the only one to even think about sharing her power…”

“Yeah, fine. I know who I am. I want to know why Spike doesn’t. Why doesn’t he remember who he is? Wouldn’t the punishment be more effective if he knew why he was there?”

“If he knew why, he might figure out what unfinished business was keeping him anchored and do something about it. Not likely, I admit, with him being trapped in a house in rural England, but you never know. It’s just a safety measure. The Senior Partners don’t like mistakes.”

“So, we’re right then, if he takes care of whatever he thinks he left unfinished, he’ll really be gone?”

“He will move to the next plane of his existence,” the man replied carefully.

Buffy nodded and began to walk around the lab, being careful not to touch anything that might touch her back. When she had circled the room completely, ignoring the young man and his explanations for the experiments that she paused to watch, she stopped back at the door.

“Not to be rude or anything, but, you know, as punishments go – being made to haunt your own house forever seems a little…lame. No offense.”

“Oh, none taken! Yes, we thought so, too, but it seems that there were extenuating circumstances. Another, um…group was interested in this vampire. We were told to simply trap the vampire’s ghost in the house and forgo the normal torture and bloodshed.”

“Another group?”

He looked around furtively. “”The Powers That Be,” he whispered. “They indicated they would be very angry if the vampire were to be punished too severely. It was quite an accomplishment for us to come up with something suitable that could appease both the Senior Partners and the…others.”

“Go, you,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “Okay, how do we make this thing go away?”

“G…go away?”

“Yes. You know. Give him back his memories, let him leave the house, make him a real boy – er –vampire, again.”

“Oh, that’s not possible! If he gets his memories…and if he can leave the house, then he really isn’t being punished, is he? And we can’t make him…real. He was killed. In the battle. The essence that was returned to the amulet is all there is to him.”

Buffy stared at him, her expression going from furious to dismayed.

“It can’t be fixed?”

He shook his head. “He can try to remember his unfinished business and take care of it, if possible. That would break the spell. But then he…”

“He’d be gone. Completely,” she said dully.

“Yes.”

Without another word, Buffy whirled and left the room, his mocking “You’re welcome” ringing in her ears. She ran past several nervous vampires and one trembling demon, barely noticing their presence. When she got to the lobby, she was stopped by Ms Parker who asked with faux sweetness, “Did learn everything you needed to learn, Ms Summers?”

“Everything except what it is that’s keeping him here. I need to know that so that we can avoid….”

The other woman began to laugh, waving her hand around when Buffy glared at her and stepped closer.

“Oh, oh dear. I’m sorry. It’s just that….” She laughed again. “It’s a bit late for that, isn’t it?”

“What do you mean, ‘a bit late’?”

“The unfinished business that you want to keep from him? It’s you, Miss Summers. The idea was to put him somewhere that you would never find him. But you did, didn’t you? Have a safe trip back,” she said, still laughing, as she walked to her office and opened the door.

Teeth clenched and eyes resolutely dry, Buffy left the building and turned blindly down the street in the direction of her hotel. She walked the ten blocks in a daze, barely acknowledging the concierge as she went through the lobby. Skipping the elevator, she ran up the six flights of stairs to her floor, hoping that the speed and effort would drive the words out of her head.

It’s a bit late for that isn’t it? It’s you, Miss Summers. It’s you, Miss Summers. It’s you, Miss Summers.

She threw herself down across the bed, resisting the urge to scream her frustration and fear. She clutched the pillow to her chest as ideas for how to save Spike came and went – examined and discarded almost as quickly as they popped into her head. With an exhausted sigh, she pulled out her phone and returned one of the five messages Dawn had sent during the course of the day.

“Am fine. bk tomorr.” she typed into it, then dropped it on the floor and gave in to a few minutes of weakness, muffling her sobs with the pillow until she fell asleep, tormented by visions of Spike fading into oblivion before her eyes.

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