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 4

Chapter Notes: Thanks to my betas, Always_jbj and Just Sue - any mistakes are the result of my constant fiddling.


She munched on first the banana, then the apple as she walked slowly towards the forbidding-looking house on the small hill. In the daylight, it looked less haunted and more just neglected. An area in the front was mowed into a small lawn, and the boxwoods along the front of the house were neatly trimmed. Everything else, however, was overgrown and unkempt looking. There was no sign of the flowers that were so ubiquitous in most British gardens. It truly did seem as though no one lived there.

“I guess, if he’s a ghost, no one actually does live there,” she muttered as she climbed the steps and approached the door. In a last second attempt to appear less slayer and more harmless girl, she swiped the lip gloss around her mouth and fluffed her hair quickly.

She opened the door, peering inside and taking in the dusty floor and cobwebs, now even more obvious with the sun slanting in the front windows. She entered, pulling the door shut behind her and following the scuff marks left by their feet the night before. Her slayer senses just barely registered that there was still something supernatural in the house with her, although not anywhere in her immediate vicinity.

With growing confidence, she went down the hallway to the library and walked in, hoping to catch the ghost reading or something else non-ghostly. She was disappointed, however, to find the room as empty as they had left it the night before. The bookshelf that had been knocked down and the subsequent pile of books had been restored to their place against the wall, so Buffy knew that the ghost had been in the room after they’d left. The book that she’d been reading was still on the table where she’d left it, although, rather than being open to her page as she’d left it, it was now closed with a bookmark prominently marking her place.

She smiled ruefully and muttered to herself, “Sheesh! If he’s that anal, it’s a wonder he didn’t get along better with Giles…”

Seeing no sign of the ghost, and not really sure how eager she was to find him, she wandered around the house looking out the kitchen windows into the very overgrown back garden and up the stairs to look through the other rooms. She noticed furniture that hadn’t been that visible the night before with just the flashlight for illumination. It was old, but in most cases, in fairly good shape. The thick coating of dust made it difficult to admire it properly, but Buffy suspected that an expert in antiques would find much to like about the armoires and beds in the upstairs bedrooms. The largest bedroom was missing its bed and a wardrobe, leading Buffy to conclude that the furniture had found its way to the basement.

Thoughts of the bedroom reminded Buffy of why she was in the house and she headed for the back stairs, concluding that the ghost, if he slept at all, obviously did it in the bedroom under the kitchen. She walked quietly, but without making any attempt at stealth. She had no desire for the ghost to think that she was trying to sneak up on him.

She hesitated in front of the basement door, noticing with amusement that the broken lock had been removed and was now resting in two pieces on the kitchen counter. Raising her hand to knock, she fought the urge to barge right in; then had to smother a yelp as the door opened right in front of her. Grateful that at least it wasn’t moving slowly and creaking, she shook off flashes from every horror movie she’d ever seen and stepped through the doorway to stand on the top step.

“Hello?” she ventured. “Mr… ghost? Are you here?”

“Did you think the door opened all by itself, Slayer?”

Buffy looked around, but saw no sign of the ghost. The voice had come from the staircase and seemed to be moving away, so she took a chance and began walking down the steps – senses alert for any indication that he was closer than she expected. She made it to the bottom safely and watched in fascination as the mattress on the very slept-in looking bed, dipped under the weight of…something.

Answering his question, she muttered, “Well, it might have. This is a haunted house, you know.”

He chuckled and apparently leaned back against the pillows. Unexpected and unwelcome visions of a naked Spike leaning against a headboard with his arms behind his head made her mouth go dry and she lost her train of thought.

“Cat got your tongue, luv?”

“Wha- huh? No. There is no tongue getting. I’m just…Could you please be visible so I can carry on a decent conversation with you?”

He laughed again and shifted his weight forward. “Whatever you want, pet. Don’t know how ‘decent’ the conversation’s going to be, though…”

“Huh?” Man, I’ve got to stop with the one-syllable words. He’s going to think I’m an idiot. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

“I was asleep when you started clomping around my house,” he said, clearly stretching out again. She could almost picture him sprawled on the rumpled linens.

“So? And I did not `clomp’. I was very careful.”

“So…I don’t wear pajamas.”

“Well, I don’t see wha-- Oh.” She remembered that Spike had always slept naked and blushed in a way that embarrassed her almost as much as not having figured out that she was talking with a naked man. Ghost! A naked ghost!

“Right, Okay, then. Invisible is good,” she said with a quick nod. “No problem.” She cocked her head at where he was still obviously lying on the bed and added, “You know, I was invisible myself once.”

“How would I know that?” The genuine confusion in his voice reminded her that she was speaking with something that only sounded like Spike. Even if, as she was slowly coming to believe, it did turn out to be him, he clearly had no memory of her or their time together, and she quickly tried to cover.

“It’s just a figure of speech,” she huffed. “I wasn’t really saying you should know about it.”

She could feel him studying her and shifted her feet uncomfortably. Spike had always had the ability to see through her when she was lying or trying to cover up a mistake. Apparently, the ghost was no different. Finally, he seemed to decide to let it go.

“So, you were invisible once, huh? What was that like? Did you have fun with it?”

Visions of what she’d done with most of her day as the invisible girl made her bite her lip and wish she’d never brought it up. Once again, she could almost feel him narrowing his eyes at her suspiciously as she fumbled for something to say.

“Not as much fun as being a ghost, I guess. I was on my way to turning into a puddle of goo if we couldn’t get me turned back.”

There was an uncomfortable silence, then he got off the bed and she felt the air stir as he walked past her to pick his pants up off the floor. She watched, trying to look away, but unable to, as the pants seemed to rise up by themselves until they were encasing a pair of legs. She watched the zipper go up and the button close, forgetting that the ghost was probably watching her.

“Never seen a man put his pants on before, Slayer?” he asked in a somewhat testy voice as he reached for his shirt.

“I’m sorry,” she said, glancing away. “I’ve never seen pants stand up by themselves before. Why didn’t they go invisible when you put them on?”

“There you go, again, wantin’ to know all my secrets. You can turn around now,” he added.

Buffy looked back to find that the ghost was fading into sight – pulling his mask over his face as he did so.

“Why do you wear that?” she asked before she could stop herself.

He shrugged. “Dunno. First thing I did when I got here – made myself something to hide my face. Didn’t wear it much until the bitty slayers and watcher wannabes started comin’ round. Jus’ didn’t like the idea of them knowing who I was.”

“Who ARE you?”

“William Pratt,” he answered readily. “But you already know that, don’t you? Or will soon. Know you’re checkin’ me out.”

“I am so not `checking’ you out!” Buffy said with an indignant snort, causing him to chuckle again.

“Meant you were lookin’ into who lives here,” he said, the smirk visible in spite of the mask. Buffy flushed and sent her eyes skittering around the room for something else to talk about. “But,” he went on when she didn’t respond, “You were checking me out. Were last night, too.”

He walked over to stand in front of her, only his hands and bare feet visible, and tilted his head in that gesture that had made her gasp the first time he’d done it. She held herself rigid, not allowing it to affect her outward demeanor, although she felt her heart skip.

Hmmmm. I wonder if ghost vampires have their vampire senses? I wonder if he can hear my heart beat go up?

“So, what’s the deal, Slayer? Are you always this afraid of ghosts?”

“I’m not afraid of you,” she blurted. “I’ve never been afraid of you.”

“Never?” Once again, she mentally bit her tongue while he openly challenged her. When she did nothing but move away from him towards the stairs, he sighed and was in front of her with inhuman speed. He reached for her, as though to hold her arms, stepping back with his hands up in a gesture of peace when she fell into a fighting stance.

“Can we stop tiptoeing around each other, now?” he asked. “I’ll answer all your questions, if you’ll answer mine. You don’t even have to fight me for it. Deal?”

“You don’t want to fight me anymore?” Buffy tried not to sound disappointed as she seized on that unrelated message to avoid answering him right away.

“Oh, I want to fight you, Slayer. Never doubt it. But I want to do where we have some room to move, and right now it’s still daylight – not a good time for ghosts to go wanderin’ around the garden. An’ I want to know why you’re so curious about me…and why you act like you think you know me.”

He waited while she bit her lip and twisted her fingers together; he said softly, “Come on, luv. Know you have questions – you’ve been full of them since you saw me. An’ now I’ve got questions of my own. Fair trade, yeah?”

Buffy shrugged and walked back into the room, then realized there was nowhere to sit except the rumpled bed. She looked at him helplessly and he nodded.

“Right. Not proper for you to be sitting on my bed – ‘specially not while I’m there too. Tell you what – you go upstairs and we’ll talk in the library. Got the heavy curtains in there, should be dark enough--”

“Why does it have to be dark?”

He was visibly taken back by her question and stumbled over his answer.

“Well, I don’t exactly know, do I? Jus’ seems like the right thing to do –stayin’ out of the daylight. Like it’s a habit or something.”

Buffy nodded and began walking up the stairs, saying over her shoulder, “Speaking of `checking out’, you’d better not be watching my ass.”

“Wouldn’t think of it, Slayer,” he said, the lie in his voice making her smile.

“Oh, yes, you would,” she responded. “You would.”

~~~~~~~~~~~

Buffy walked into the library and to the far end of the couch. She could feel the ghost right behind her as she walked into the room, although he had made no sound at all as he followed her from the kitchen and then to the opposite end of the couch at which she was pointing.

“How’s this? Unless you don’t want me on your favorite piece of furniture either?”

“Very funny,” he muttered, sitting down a respectable distance away from her. “Don’t mind you here – long as no bloody watcher is trying to shag you, anyway.”

“Just so we’re clear…is it your couch that’s off limits, or is it me?” She kept her voice deliberately light and tinged with laughter as she waited for him to reply. She knew her respiration and heart rate had gone up, but wasn’t sure if he would be able to sense them or not.

He met her eyes, his own too well hidden by both the dim light in the room and his homemade mask for her to tell what color they were. Even so, her breath hitched a little when their gazes locked for the first time. He held her stare, then broke away and shook his head.

“I think it’s you; but buggered if I can tell you why. Never saw you before last night.” He snagged her eyes again, asking quietly, “Have I?”

Buffy gave a nervous laugh and looked away. The stake was pushing against her back, so she pulled it out of her waistband and set it on the table. When he repeated his question, she raised her eyes back to his.

“I don’t know,” she said, honest reluctance shining in her face. “I…I think maybe you could…but it’s impossible…but you-he did it before…” She shook her head and leaned against the arm of the couch. “Can we just ask our questions and see where it goes?”

“Ladies first.”

Buffy snorted, then said, “Let’s start with the easy ones, ‘k? Let me think – what did I ask you last night?”

“You asked me who I was. But I already answered that downstairs. I’m William Pratt and I’m the ghost of this house.”

“How long have you been haunting this house? Do you know?”

He appeared to think. “Not sure. Sometimes it feels like it’s been forever, but I know it hasn’t. Before the watchers and the slayers started showing up, there wasn’t much to do to pass the time. Every once in a while some idiot would get a snootful and want to impress his friends by spendin’ the night here. Was about the only fun I had for a long time – sendin’ ‘em running out to their friends, crying like a girl.”

“And then the slayers came,” Buffy encouraged. “And you found out you could fight them.”

“Already knew that. I’m pretty solid even when you can’t see me – to answer another one of your questions from last night -- and when you can…” He shrugged and raised one clenched fist. “Had a run-in with some would be burglars when I first moved in. They didn’t realize what I was at first. Thought I was just a caretaker or another thief.” He paused and she could feel his grin even though she couldn’t see it. “Kicked their arses good, I did. Might have killed one of them if his friends hadn’t grabbed him and pulled him outta reach.”

He gave an abashed shrug and concluded, “Anyway, when the little slayers started turnin’ up and thinkin’ they could take on the ghost, I already knew I could fight. Took me sending five or six of them home in tears to figure out I was bloody good at it.”

“So, you are solid even when you’re not visible?” She filed that information away on the ‘probably not ghostspike’ side of the mental tally she’d begun keeping. “That’s why I hit your nose last night. How is it, by the way?” she asked with genuine concern. “Does it still hurt?”

“’s fine, luv. I heal fast.”

“That makes two of us.“ She smiled, rubbing the side of her face. Suddenly serious again, she asked, “How did you get here? If you haven’t always been here…”

“That’s a mite fuzzy, actually. Just sort of was… here. Some bloke was standing in the doorway and as soon as he saw that I was here, he tossed some clothes into the room and told me I couldn’t leave here ‘cept to step out on the porch or the front lawn. Then he laughed and left. Told me to enjoy the rest of my life, the bloody wanker,” he muttered.

“And you don’t know who he was?”

“Not a soddin’ clue. He jus’ left me here to figure out how to be a ghost. ‘Course, I recognized the house after a while and I found some paperwork sayin’ it was mine. That’s it. Don’t even know how or when I died.”

“So, you don’t remember anything from…before. Before you were a ghost, I mean.”

“No.” His answer was short and curt and she realized that not knowing how he came to be there was a source of frustration for him.

“What if…what if I could tell you…stuff.”

“Stuff?”

“About who you really are--”

“’m not really William Pratt?”

“Well, you probably are, or were. But you’ve been somebody else for a long time…somebody I…know. I think. I think I know who you are. But I really need to see your face to be sure.”

He nodded. “Gonna answer a few questions for me first?”

She gave her own cautious nod and waited to see what he was going to want to know and not sure what, if anything, she should tell him. On the one hand, if it was Spike, telling him about his past life might trigger his memories. On the other, it if wasn’t really him but just some ghostly presence that had some of his characteristics, she could be giving a potentially evil being more information than she would want it to have.

Her indecision must have shown on her face as he said softly, “Don’t have to answer anything you don’t want to, pet. But if you can tell me something about my life and…death, I’d be very grateful.”

Buffy took a deep breath and let it out in a rush.

“No, I want to tell you. I just…without knowing for sure if you’re who you seem to be, or why you’re here…”

He nodded. “Don’t want to give more away than you need to. I understand that. You don’t know what I am. Could be evil.”

Buffy cocked her head at him and smiled. “You could be. But, that’s my specialty – fighting evil. I think I can handle it.”

“I’ll wager you could at that,” he said, running his eyes over her in a way that sent warmth throughout her body.

She felt herself flush and turned her head away until she could set her face into disapproving lines.

“What do you want to know first?”

“Want to know who the bloody hell you think I am,” he said in a tone that said he thought she wasn’t very bright.

“Well, you could be…that is, you sound a lot like…” She stopped and stared at him. “Can you hear my heartbeat? Can you…smell…me?”

“If I’m fully solid, I can. Why?”

“Can you…that is…is there any chance…”

“Spit it out, Slayer.”

“Are you a vampire?” she blurted.

“I’m a ghost!” The anticipated ‘you stupid bint’ was clear to her experienced ears.

“But,” she continued doggedly, “could you be a vampire ghost? Can you bite people? What happens if a vampire tries to move in here?”

He pointed to the overly dusty hallway and crossed his arms across his chest.

“Stop playin’ games with me, Slayer. Tell me what you know.”

“I know that you sound just like somebody I…used to know. He was a vampire, and he…he died to save the world. Twice – as far as we know.”

“You used to ‘know’ a vampire? As in, ‘Hi, how’s it goin’?’ rather than know him like he ended up on the end of a pointy stick?” When she nodded, he asked, “Why’d this particular vampire get a free pass?”

“He…look, it’s a long story and no reason to tell it if you’re not him. He couldn’t kill humans, he helped me out sometimes and then he got his soul back. He earned his pass. It wasn’t free.”

“An’ you think I’m him?” The ghost’s voice was flat; she couldn’t tell what he was thinking. He suddenly spun around to face her. “Why? Why would you think I’m him? Just because we had the same accent?”

Buffy shook her head. “That and the house – his real name was William, we think his last name before he was turned was Pratt, he liked poetry, he was very protective of Dawn…” Buffy’s voice trailed off and she gave a shaky laugh. “She used to swear that she was going to die an old maid because Spi—the vampire scared off so many dates.”

“I see. Anything else?”

“He was a really good fighter; he liked it. And he liked fighting with me.”

“I’m sure he did,” he said almost absently as he leaned his head back against the back of the couch and became very still.

Buffy waited quietly, wondering if she’d said too much or not enough. She hadn’t told him that he’d killed two slayers; nor that he’d loved her. I think it’s okay, she decided. I haven’t told him anything that might upset him – except maybe the part about having his soul, but if he doesn’t remember being a vampire, he shouldn’t care about that.

“What would seein’ my face tell you that you don’t already know?” he asked abruptly.

“That this isn’t just some part of the vampire’s personality lurking in somebody else’s ghostly body, for starters,” she snapped back. “You sound like him, you kind of fight like him –as much as I could tell last night, anyway. You have the same name as he did when he was human, you know about slayers and watchers, you aren’t hurting anyone any more than they deserve or can handle…do you want me to go on?”

“No,” he sighed, reaching for the cloth covering his face. “You’ve got a right…” He paused with his hand on the bottom of the mask. “But what if I’m not him? What then, Slayer?”

“I don’t know,” she whispered. “I haven’t thought that far.”

“Do youwant me to be him, Buffy?” His use of her name for the first time sent a shiver up her spine.

Do I want him to be Spike? And what if he is? What does that mean? It’s been years, I’ve moved on, finished my grieving and gone on with my life. And he doesn’t know me – clearly doesn’t love me…Would it be better or worse for him to be stuck here, knowing who he is and the things he’s done?

“Buffy? Slayer?”

“Sorry,” she said hastily. “You threw me when you called me Buffy. Of…of course I want you to be him. I mean, I think I do. If it would help you be…happier. To know who you are and that you have…friends.”

“You had to think about it, didn’t you?” he asked shrewdly. “Not sure if you want to know or not now, are you?”

“I want to know,” she insisted. “I do want to know. I just can’t…I don’t know what it means for you. Would you be happier not knowing? If you are him, you’ve saved the world twice – more than that if you count the times you helped me. You’ve earned a peaceful rest or some sort of reward, and this –“ she gestured with her arm trying to encompass the whole house – “just doesn’t seem all that rewardy, you know? It seems more like you’re being punished for something – being made to haunt a house. It’s…it’s not right!”

“’preciate the indignation on my part, luv, but I know enough to know that what’s right isn’t always what happens. Don’t have to know who I was or what I did to know that.”

“Yeah, well,” she grumbled, “I’m a slayer. Making things right is what we do.”

They were silent for several minutes, then Buffy suddenly tossed him her stake, which he caught easily with his left hand. She could feel him quirking an eyebrow at her.

“You’re left-handed,” she said by way of explanation.

“I am.”

“I was just checking.”

He nodded. “Nothing wrong with checking as much as you can.” He played with the stake, twirling it around and tossing it up and down. “You’ll let me know when you’re ready to see my face, yeah?”

“I’m ready,” she said softly. “I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.”

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