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 14

“Buffy? Are you up yet?” Dawn’s voice came through the door just before she entered the room. Spotting Spike’s duster on the chair, she froze and covered her eyes with one hand. “Gah! Invisible, please! Now!”

“He is invisible,” Buffy said, a sleepy giggle accompanying Spike’s annoyed growl. “You can put your hand down.”

Dawn cautiously lowered her hand, peering through her spread fingers before breathing a sigh of relief and dropping it completely.

“Doors, locks. Look into it.”

Buffy raised her eyebrows. “The door was locked – until someone unlocked it to let a man into my bedroom.” Her glare was spoiled by the way she was clearly snuggled into the side of said invisible man, and Dawn snickered.

“Yeah, you can thank me later. I guess you aren’t coming down for breakfast, then?”

“Well, Spike’s stuck here till dark, so--”

A squeeze from the arms wrapped around her stopped her in mid-excuse. Dawn stared in his general direction.

“You didn’t tell her?”

“Had other things to discuss, pet. That one wasn’t really high on the list.”

“What? What are talking about?”

“He can go out in the sun. The only thing it does to him is make him a little bit see-through.”

“You can? You can walk around in the daylight?”

“Well, if what your sis and the witch said, I probably wouldn’t want to walk around town at noon. Seems I’m a bit ghostier lookin’ in the bright sun, but not as flammable as I used to be.”

“Wow.” She cupped his face and said softly, “It’s almost like you’re…”

“Not human, love. Farther from it than I was before, I’d wager. But we can make believe, if it makes you happy.”

Without turning to look at her sister, Buffy said, “Dawn? I need for you to leave now. I’ll be down in a little while, but right now I need to be able to see Spike, okay?”

“Yeah, okay, fine. It’s not like I’m jumping up and down hoping to see you two naked. See you downstairs.” She turned to leave, then paused. “Is it okay if I tell Willow and Giles that you two are…” She gestured in the direction of the bed.

Buffy shrugged and nuzzled Spike’s neck. “What do you think?”

“You’re asking me?” Disbelief was clear in his voice and Buffy flinched. “I’m sorry, love. Didn’t mean that the way it sounded.” He began planting kisses on her disappointed face, neither of them noticing Dawn’s impatiently tapping foot.

“I CAN see at least one of you, you know. And she’s naked, too. Just in case you forgot.”

“I didn’t forget,” Spike’s voice dropped to a rumble that had both Buffy and Dawn blushing.

“Okay, I’m leaving now. If I see them, I’m just going to say that you’re working things out.”

“I’ll be down soon, Dawn,” Buffy said, reluctantly pulling away from Spike’s still busy lips. “I need to talk to them about what I found out at Wolfram and Heartless.”

With a nod, Dawn opened the door and walked out, carefully closing it behind her. When they could no longer hear her footsteps, Buffy and Spike simultaneously turned towards each other. As she watched him come back into sight, Buffy caressed Spike’s face.

“I really do need to talk to Giles and Willow,” she said. “We need some magical input to help us figure out what’s going on. Why the Powers tried to protect you, and what that means about your next plane.”

“Not goin’ anywhere,” he said, his lip coming out in a stubborn pout. “Don’t care where else they want me to go. I’m staying right here. With you,” he added, in case there had been any question.

Buffy leaned in and rubbed her face on his chest. “I don’t want you to go anywhere either, but I’d feel better about it if we had some idea what we should do or not do. Just in case.”

“Alright, love,” he agreed, kissing the top of her head, then pushing her away with a sigh. “You go see the big brains and I’ll try to get out of here without bumping into anybody.”

With a nod, Buffy threw back the covers and stood up, stretching under his admiring gaze with no false modesty.

“Changed my mind,” he growled, reaching for her. “Come’ere, you.”

Laughing with delight, she danced out of reach, picking her sweatpants off the floor where they’d been tossed the night before.

“Uh uh. I’ll see you later. Right now I’m going to go find out what I need to do to make sure you don’t go poof on me.”

She pulled the matching sweatshirt over her head, ran a brush through her hair and blew him a kiss.

“Try not to freak out any slayers,” she said as she opened the door. “Some of them will be able to sense you.”

“Sensing me and catching me are two very different things, love. None of the girls I’ve met here could even begin to follow me the way you can. Not enough experience yet.”

She waved and pulled the door shut behind her, confident that none of the young slayers in the school would be aware of anything except a possible chill when the ghost walked past them.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When Buffy walked into the dining hall, she immediately headed for the coffee machines and poured herself a large mug of instant energy. She’d already spotted Dawn and Willow, their heads close together as they talked over their pancakes. It had taken a while to convince the kitchen help that Americans liked pancakes much more than they did mushrooms for breakfast. Carrying her mug, Buffy made her way through the tables, smiling cheerfully at those few people she recognized, until she was standing in front of her sister and her best friend.

“Is this seat taken?”

“Don’t waste time being funny,” Dawn said. “Just sit down and tell us what’s going on.”

Buffy sighed at Willow’s eager nod, and put down her mug. As she pulled out the chair, she smiled at Willow.

“Thanks for shaking Spike loose from that place, Will. He’ll be a lot happier now.”

“You’re welcome. It was no biggie. That spell was pretty simple; the memory thing – not so much.”

“Well, I’m not sure I want him to get his memories back now.” Buffy grimaced as she took a large swallow of hot coffee. At their inquisitive, “huh?” and “what?”, she said, “How about we wait until I see Giles so I only have to explain stuff once? Okay?”

They agreed, Willow much less reluctantly than Dawn, and quickly finished eating so as to accompany Buffy to Giles’ office. As they walked to the Administrative part of the complex, Dawn asked, “So, is Spike just hanging out in your room?”

Buffy shrugged. “No. I think he’s going back to his house. Or somewhere. It’s been a long time since he could walk around. I don’t know where he’s going to go, but as long as he stays invisible, he should be okay.”

Dawn snickered. “If I know Spike, he’s going to go steal some cigarettes and booze.”

Buffy glared. “He is not! In the first place, he doesn’t eat or drink, so he doesn’t need any alcohol--”

“And he probably can’t smoke, either,” Willow put in. “Poor Spike. I wonder what he can do?”

There was silence as Buffy turned bright red and Dawn put her hand over her mouth to smother another snicker. When it finally burst out, Willow’s blush matched Buffy’s. “Oh, yes. Well, there’s that, I guess... Oh look! Here we are at Giles’ office!”

While Dawn rolled her eyes and mumbled, “You’d think you two were still in high school,” Willow walked in the open door and greeted the watcher.

“Hi, Giles. Buffy’s back.”

“So I see.” He looked at Buffy’s still pink face and sighed. “I’m assuming the trip was a success?” he guessed shrewdly.

While the other two women seated themselves and waited to hear her story, Buffy began to pace around the small area in front of Giles’ desk. She quickly ran through her trip and her surprised reaction to finding vampires and demons going about their business in the lobby of Wolfram and Hart’s London office.

“I told you, Buffy,” Giles explained with barely concealed impatience. “The firm caters to demons of all kinds. That is their bread and butter. I don’t doubt that they number some humans among their clients -- sorcerers and others who’ve embraced evil in their lives -- but the majority of their clients are not human.”

She nodded. “Yeah, but all the employees I spoke to were human. Isn’t that weird?”

“A paycheck is a paycheck,” Dawn said with a shrug, bored with the conversation so far.

“Dawn!” Simultaneous gasps from everyone else in the room had her rethinking her remark.

“What? Am I missing something? I’m just saying, if they’re being well paid and the clients know not to eat them…”

“Most of them will have signed away their souls in order to earn those paychecks,” Giles said shortly. “They will never work anywhere else.”

Dawn swallowed her arguments and waited until he was finished speaking. Then she looked at Buffy expectantly. “Okay, so what did these evil people tell you?”

Buffy gave them a quick recap of what she’d learned about Spike’s condition and the reason for it. When she got to the part where she found out what his unfinished business was, she hesitated, not sure what she wanted to say.

While they waited, Giles and Willow plied her with questions about the exact wording that the representative from the Magic Department had used when describing the spell and Spike’s condition. Willow seemed particularly concerned about the man’s use of “his next plane of existence” to explain what would happen when Spike broke the spell by taking care of his unfinished business.

“I wonder if they know what that next plane is?” she muttered, almost to herself.

“What difference does it make?” Buffy snapped. “Gone is gone.”

“Well…you don’t want Spike to go to Hell, do you? Wouldn’t it be good to know if he was going to be in Heaven, or…”

“I don’t think he’d go to Hell,” Buffy said, her shoulders slumped and a chastised grimace on her face. “Why would the Powers insist on giving him an out if he was just going to go to Hell? I guess he…I guess he’d be going to Heaven, wouldn’t he? I mean, he’s saved the world a couple of times, and helped Angel bring down LA’s Wolfram and Hart office. He’s a champion – their champion. What else would they do with him?”

Giles and Willow exchanged looks, the watcher’s slight headshake going unnoticed by either Summers sister. Willow nodded and said, “I don’t know. Probably nothing. But Heaven’s all right, isn’t it? Don’t you want Spike to be in Heaven?”

“I want Spike right where he is – beside me. Until I’m dead. Then he can go to Heaven or anywhere else he wants to.” Buffy’s words were cold, but the broken expression on her face and the whisper in which she said them kept anyone from pointing out how selfish she was being.

There was a momentary silence, then Willow said briskly, “Well, then, let’s hear what it is that he needs to fix so we can take care of it for him. Or make it go away, if that’s what we need to do.”

“I tried that,’ Buffy said, sinking into a chair and dropping her head against the back. “He got mad at me. Said it was his decision to make. Stupid vampire ghost.”

“You’ve already tried to fix it? What did you do?

“I walked away.”

Dawn’s expression was suddenly intent. “But he followed you. He didn’t let you go, did he?”

Giles broke into the conversation. “I don’t understand, Buffy. What does your walking away have to do with…” He trailed of as he realized what Dawn had already figured out. “You,” he said with chilly finality. “He has to fix things with you.”

Buffy nodded. “That’s what the Wolfram and Hart bitch said. I’m the thing he needs to fix before he can move on. So, the sooner he gets his memories back, the sooner he might go poof. If I’m around.”

“And the longer you are here, the more likely he is to get them back.” Willow’s thoughts were already going in a dozen different directions. Spells, there had to be spells or wards that could…She put on her resolve face and said, “We’re going to work this out, Buffy. I’ll talk to the coven. We’ll come up with something.”

“Thanks, Will. I appreciate it.”

“So,” Giles asked more sympathetically than they might have expected, “What is your plan?”

Buffy shook her head. “I don’t know. I thought I’d just tell him what was going on and then go back to Cleveland – or some place that he couldn’t find me. Turns out he didn’t like the idea of me making that kind of decision for him.”

Dawn snorted. “I guess that explains the yelling from your room last night.”

“Yeah,” Buffy admitted. “It might have been a little loud every once in a while.”

“I take it you have changed your mind?”

She sighed. “I guess so. I guess we’ll just …just enjoy what we’ve got and see what happens. I mean, it could be years, you know? Especially if I stop telling him things about his past. We’ll just cross our fingers and live in the present. Or, well, in his case, be dead in the present.”

She looked up at Giles. “I guess you’d better let Faith know that she’s in charge. She’ll like that. We were getting on each other’s nerves, anyway.”

“So, you’re staying here?” Dawn asked eagerly.

Buffy nodded. “For as long as I can…”

She stood up and stretched. “Okay, guys, I’m going to change clothes and go out to Spike’s and tell him what’s going on. I’ll probably be back for dinner, but don’t wait for me. I think I’ll be spending a lot of time there now--”

“Boinking Spike,” Dawn coughed into her hand, earning a giggle from Willow and a glare from her sister.

Giles sighed heavily as he also stood . “As entertaining as this is, I do have an organization to run. If we’re done here…”

The other two girls stood up and watched as Buffy waved and left the room. They waited until she was safely out of hearing before Willow turned to Giles.

“What do you think?”

“I think it’s a very faint hope, of which Buffy needs to remain ignorant for the time being. We don’t know anything about it, other than what Miss Burkle told you about Angel’s desire to attain it someday. It may have been a true prophecy, it may have been something planted by Wolfram and Hart. I think we need to deal with what is, not what we wish might be.”

“But, Giles. If the Powers th--”

“The Powers That Be are not in the habit of sharing information with ordinary humans -- not even with their own champions, except in the most enigmatic manner possible – I would find it highly unlikely that they would do so with that most evil of organizations. And,” he continued when Willow seemed inclined to argue again, “we have no assurance that anything Buffy was told there is the complete truth.”

Willow exhaled loudly. “I suppose you’re right. No sense in--” She stopped, noticing the way Dawn’s eyes darted back and forth between her and Giles.

“You know something,” the younger girl accused.

“No, Dawn,” Giles’ voice was calm and assured. “We do not know anything. Willow is grasping at a very thin straw about which we know next to nothing. I wish I could say that it was likely, or even a remote possibility, but I fear that is not the case.”

“You’re not going to tell me what it is?”

“No.”

“I’m sorry, Dawnie.”

Dawn spun on her heel and left the office without so much as a wave.

“It’s for the best,” Giles said firmly.

“I suppose.” Willow walked slowly towards the door. “See ya, Giles.”

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