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 19

They woke early enough for Buffy to run back to the Slayer school for her evening meal and a quick visit with Dawn and Willow. The girls talked about the purchases Buffy and Spike had made that day, and the things still to be ordered. Excited about the chance to spend someone else’s money, Dawn offered to do some initial scouting around for them, if Buffy would allow her to come along on the shopping trip.

“Dawn, I’m going to be getting boring stuff – a broom, a mop, dust cloths, things like that. It’s not like I’m going shopping for all new clothes.”

Willow smiled, saying with a wistful tone to her voice, “You and Spike sure have gotten domestic. I never thought I’d see the day when Buffy Summers was shopping for cleaning supplies – and William the Bloody was paying for them.”

“I clean!” Buffy said indignantly. “Sometimes…When I’m home…and I don’t have anything else to do…”

Willow gave an embarrassed laugh. “I didn’t really mean…well, okay I kinda did, but only in the most loving way!” By way of atonement, she offered, “Do you want Dawn and me to come out tomorrow and help you clean the house? It’s pretty big for one person to be doing alone. We could help.”

Ignoring Dawn’s “What do you mean ‘we’?” Buffy nodded. “That would be nice. I don’t think I’m going to be able to get Farmer Spike to come inside to help until he’s got that garden looking the way he thinks it should. And I don’t want the guys delivering stuff to a house that looks…”

“Like it’s haunted?” Willow grinned.

“Yeah. Like that.”

They quickly set a time for Willow and Dawn to come out the following day, agreeing that they could follow Buffy and Spike back after their appointment with the Council’s solicitor. Buffy finished her meal and said her “good nights” as she prepared to go back to the house.

“Does this mean we can rent out your room?” Dawn asked. “It’s not like you’re going to be using it.”

Buffy blushed slightly. “Well, we’re not officially living together, you know. We haven’t even had a really big fight yet. He could throw me out anytime.”

“Sheeyah! Like that’s gonna happen.” Dawn’s disbelief was heartening and Buffy giggled.

“Well, probably not. But let’s not give away my room just yet…”

“I was actually thinking more about moving in,” Dawn admitted. “You’ve got one of the few rooms with its own bathroom.”

“We’ll see. Ask me again in a few days. ‘k?”

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

The meeting with the Council’s solicitor went better than they’d hoped. The man, a Mr Charles Smythe, was a bit taken aback by Spike’s shimmery outline, but he’d been warned beforehand that he would be meeting with the ghost of a vampire and he managed to shake hands without trembling. Once they’d settled down to business, Buffy let Spike do the talking, finding to her surprise, that he seemed to know quite a bit about the law and real estate.

Mr Smythe was able to handle the transfer of the house’s ownership easily, as he’d come prepared to do just that. The house was sold to Buffy for a nominal sum, and he assured Spike that he would file the papers as soon as they had completed any other business that might require his services. Buffy had shown him the now-visible bankbook, and had explained about opening her own account and picking up the deposit and withdrawal slips for Spike. When she’d finished, he nodded and leaned back in the chair to stare at them intently.

“I’m afraid I need to ask you some hard questions,” he said with a timid smile at the now frowning vampire.

He glanced at Buffy and at their joined hands, and sighed. “I know only a little about you and your history. Mr Giles has filled me in to some extent, and clearly this is a rather extraordinary situation. Nonetheless, I feel that I must approach it as if you were an ordinary couple attempting to set up a household. If that is what you are doing?”

Buffy and Spike exchanged startled glances.

“I…we…we just…I can’t…”

“Don’t know what we’re doing, do we?” Spike said, somewhat more articulately. “We don’t know how long I’m going to be around. Could be forever, could be I’ll be nothing but a memory by this time tomorrow. I need to know that Buffy’s safe when she’s in the house – we’ve taken care of that. At least as far as other vampires are concerned. And…” He shot a sideways look at Buffy. “And, if it’s alright with her, I’d like to know that she’s taken care of if, or when, something happens to me.”

Buffy’s face whitened at his casual reference to his possible disappearance, and he squeezed her hand reassuringly.

“’s alright, love,” he said softly. “I’m not feeling any less real than I was before. I just want to be prepared for any eventuality. Want you to have the house and whatever money I’ve got. Know I won’t be needing it, don’t I?”

She bit her lip and nodded; they turned their attention back to Mr. Smythe.

“So, I can assume then that you trust her?”

The answering growl was apparently sufficient and the man nodded and went on quickly.

“In that case, I suggest a couple of things. The first one is to give Miss Summers a lasting power of attorney. That way, she will have access to your financial papers and bank accounts. She will be able to pay the bills – including putting money into her own account to pay off the items already purchased – and she will be able to handle any other legal matters that might be awkward for you to do yourself.”

“Sounds about right,” Spike agreed. “What else?”

“Well -- and here is where things become a bit irregular. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to have a will of sorts.”

“Of sorts?”

“The wording will have to be a bit unusual. You are, after all, technically already dead.”

“Have been for over 130 years,” Spike agreed.

“However,” Smythe went on, “in order for Miss Summers to retain possession of your assets -- with the exception of the house, which will already be hers – she will need to inherit them from you upon your…your…”

At a loss, his voice trailed off. Giles, who had been sitting quietly up until now, came to his rescue.

“I hardly think an actual will is necessary,” he said shortly. “Buffy will have possession of the house – if she wants it. And she is employed, so inheriting money, while a boon, no doubt, for the local shoe shops, is not something she needs to be overly concerned about. Spike could, perhaps, sign something in front of us that indicates that in the event he moves on, Buffy is to retain her legal right to handle his financial affairs. Surely that is sufficient. We’re not talking about the crown jewels here, are we?”

He sat back, looking quite satisfied with himself until he noticed Spike’s uncomfortable expression.

“Are we?” Giles repeated.

The ghost shrugged. “Seems like I was a pretty canny businessman,” Spike said, pointing at the bankbook. “That’s not the only thing that I found in the house.”

Giles stared at the vampire he’d thought he knew well and shook his head.

“The primary issue remains the fact that Buffy will already have possession of your power of attorney and the house. Whether you are physically present on this plane or not may not be relevant.”

“Buffy is sitting right here!” Snatching her hand from Spike’s she glared at him. “And we will be talking about this later – Mr I need money for cigarettes and blood!” She stood up and walked to the door, whirling to face the three surprised men.

“Contrary to what you may think, I do have a brain. I do have a job. And I’ve been taking care of myself for quite a while now. If something should …happen…” she faltered for a second, then raised her chin. “If he goes away, I’d want to keep the house because it’s his and it will hold some good memories. But I’m not some fragile little flower that needs to be ‘taken care of’ if he’s not here anymore.”

She glared at the men in the room, then dropped her eyes and walked slowly back to her seat. “That’s all,” she muttered.

Giles cleared his throat while Spike murmured soothingly into Buffy’s ear, telling her that he knew she was a brilliant and competent woman, but that he wanted her to have whatever he could give her. The solicitor waited to be told what to do next. Eventually, Spike raised his head to look at the man.

“Give me something to sign that says what’s mine is hers – just in case some long lost distant cousin shows up – and we’ll call it a day. The main thing was to make the house safe from vamps and to get at the money in the bank. I’ll handle anything else.”

With a quick nod, Smythe used Giles’ computer to type out a short note making Buffy Spike’s sole heir. It printed out quickly and was signed by everyone in the room, as was the already filled in Lasting Power of Attorney. Shaking hands again, Smythe gathered his things and left, promising to file the transfer of the property and the power of attorney right away.

Buffy and Spike picked up Dawn and Willow, who had relieved the complex of several pieces of cleaning equipment while they waited. Waving brooms, mops, dustrags and furniture polish, they joined Buffy and Spike at the main entrance, prepared to do battle with several years’ accumulation of dust and cobwebs. With much laughter, they gave Spike the bigger tools to carry and waited while he disappeared with them. They all trudged off to the house, ready to make it look more lived in… and less haunted.

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

Within another day, Buffy had established a routine that would allow her to get two meals a day at Council Headquarters, run any necessary errands in town, and to shower and grab more clothes if she needed them. She would spend the mornings and early afternoons at the Council, doing laundry, visiting with Dawn and Willow, and, at Giles’ urging, covering a few of the slayer training classes. Following that, she would eat an early evening meal and head for Spike’s while it was still early enough to work in the garden.

Only on the days when deliveries were scheduled, did she stay much past ten in the morning, leaving Spike grumbling about being deserted, even as he went back to sleep. Their lives were settling into an easy rhythm of love-making, gardening and frequent trips to and from the Slayer School where Buffy was now an official instructor.

Resigned to the idea that they were probably going to have little control over what happened to Spike, and confident that nothing they’d said or done so far had caused him to vanish, Buffy began to gradually fill him in on more of their history, as well as their final days in Sunnydale. It became a bedtime ritual – for Buffy to tell him about another act in the drama of their lives every night before they went to sleep.

“I wish I could tell you more about Angel and his team,” she said when he’d expressed some frustrated interest in what he’d been doing in Los Angeles. “But we really don’t know very much. After Angel took over Wolfram and Hart, Giles and I were afraid he might have lost his soul again, and we sort of…pulled back.”

“Seems odd, that’s all. That I wouldn’t have come after you; or that someone wouldn’t have told you about me.”

“The only one who knew was Andrew – the vampire hero-worshipping little worm – and you asked him to let you tell me in your own time. I didn’t know anything until it was too late. And all he told me then was that you’d been a ghost for a while, and that Dana cut your hands off. And that you made him promise not to tell me about him.”

“I’m sorry, love,” he said, detecting a strong note of sadness in her voice. “Don’t know what I was thinking, but I know I never meant to hurt you.”

“Don’t apologize,” she said, turning her face into his bare shoulder and kissing the smooth skin there. “It wasn’t the you who’s here now. You probably had a reason – it might even have been a good one…” Her tone indicated how unlikely she found that idea, and he laughed, distracting her with deep, slow kisses until she forgot to be annoyed with him.

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

Slowly, as she brought more and more of her clothes to the house, she spent less and less time at the school complex. With a hot water heater now installed, the shower had been rendered comfortable for human use; and with the microwave and refrigerator plugged in and working, there was really no great need for Buffy to go to the Council grounds except to teach her classes and to do an occasional load of laundry. On the day that Spike surprised her by having a small washer and dryer delivered and installed, Buffy finally agreed to move in completely.

She left her posters for Dawn, who had promptly taken possession of the nicer room and offered to help Buffy move the rest of her stuff to Spike’s house.

“I guess it really isn’t Spike’s house, anymore, is it?” she mused, while helping Buffy decide about the posters.

“It will always be Spike’s house,” Buffy responded firmly. “It’s just technically mine, so that vamps can’t get in.”

“Uh huh.” Dawn was dubious, having heard rumors about her sister’s new-found wealth. No one would admit to having listened in on any conversations, but within a day or two, almost everyone in the complex had known about the oldest slayer and her ghostly partner. Only the kitchen staff and other townspeople working around the complex had not been included in the gossip.

“What are you going to do about your stuff in Cleveland?”

“I don’t know. I guess I’ll ask Faith to get some girls to help her pack it up and ship it here. I miss my music and my…stuff.”

Dawn nodded. “Yep. It’s important to have all your stuff.”

“It is! You don’t realize it until you’re living in somebody else’s house and using their stuff.”

“You don’t feel like it’s your house yet?”

“I need my stuff,” Buffy said stubbornly. “Then maybe it’ll feel like it’s mine.”

Spike’s expression when they walked in with what little had been left of Buffy’s possessions, made the effort worth it and both Summers girls smiled to see his obvious joy.

“Okay,” Dawn said. “If Spike could appear in public, we could all go out for dinner to celebrate.”

“Maybe we can pretend you’re somebody else,” Buffy said, sudden inspiration lighting up her face. “Everybody wonders what I’m doing up here in this old house by myself. You can be my boyfriend who just got here from…from…somewhere British.”

“Your boyfriend?” Disappointment colored his voice and Dawn and Buffy exchanged looks.

“Or your fiancé?” Dawn offered quickly. “You know, somebody who has a right to live here?”

“Or my husband,” Buffy said softly, never taking her eyes off Spike’s. “Who just happens to have the same name as the man who used to own the house…”

“Not going to fool anybody with that, love,” he warned, moving closer to her. “Not anybody who knows anything.” In spite of his words, he was almost beaming at the thought as he ran his knuckles down her cheek.

“I suppose not,” she sighed. “But you could be my fiancé, couldn’t you? You could have a different name – Randy Giles, maybe?”

Spike frowned in confusion as Dawn snorted. Soon, she and Buffy began to giggle and then roar with laughter. When they finally tapered off to no more than snorts and snuffles, they realized that he was not feigning his impatience and anger.

“I’m sorry…” Buffy gasped. “I’ll explain that later. I promise. It’ll be tonight’s story.”

“Better be a bloody good one,” he muttered, his feelings not really soothed.

“Oh, it is!” Dawn promised. “You have no idea.”

Somewhat mollified, he relaxed and pointed out that the Wolfram and Hart “minion’ as Buffy continued to call him, would recognize him if he saw them out and about.

“Well, this just sucks.”

With both women wearing almost identical pouts, he shook his head and relented.

“Tell you what. We’ll go out and I’ll just do my invisible ghost act. With two of you there, maybe nobody will notice that you aren’t always talking to each other.”

Happy to have reached a compromise, Dawn hustled them out the door before Spike could change his mind.

“I hear you’re rich,” she said to him as she walked out the door. “I guess that means you’re buying.”

“I guess it does,” he agreed cheerfully, fully aware that the money in his pocket was going to be just as invisible as he intended to be. He grinned and escorted the girls down the steps and off to town for dinner. While they walked and the sisters chatted, he thought about the way his ghostly life had changed, now that he knew some of what had come before.

As had happened with Buffy, after only a small amount of time in Dawn’s presence, Spike had fallen into old affectionate patterns that he would have thought very inappropriate had he not been told all about their previous close relationship. As it was, he just accepted his feelings towards the two Summers girls with the same ease that he had accepted that there were good reasons for his initial antipathy towards Giles.

Buffy had eventually filed him in on bits and pieces of his history with her watcher, explaining her own disappointment when Giles had not recognized how Spike’s soul had changed him. She’d only found out about Fred Burkle’s death and Angel’s call for help after he and Spike were both dead, but she told him that she was sure some of Spike’s anger towards Giles had as much to do with that situation as it did with the attempt on his life.

“So,” he’d said when she finished her story, “I was right to toss the wanker out of my home.”

He looked at the two chattering girls in front of him and remembered that Buffy’d had no comeback at the time.

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