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 5

With deliberately slow motions, he began to pull up on the mask, teasing her by pulling up and then dropping it two or three times. When he had exposed only his chin and mouth and was still playing with it, Buffy began tapping her fingers on the table.

“This is not a strip tease,” she growled.

He tilted his head at her, pausing with the mask half up.

“Was just playin’ with you, Slayer. If I was goin’ to strip for you, I’d start with somethin’ more interesting than my face. Something you haven’t seen yet…”

Buffy bit her tongue, deciding that she wasn’t ready to share with him that she might have recognized him just as quickly from other body parts. When she didn’t respond except to roll her eyes, he sighed and yanked the cloth over his head. He turned to face her and said, “Well?”

Buffy’s gasp was all the answer he needed. She was frozen in place, her hand over her mouth and her eyes riveted on his face. They moved around, taking in the loose brown curls in place of the shockingly blond gelled hair that she was used to and the so familiar, and yet now unfamiliar, blue eyes.

When she hadn’t said anything after several minutes, only continued to stare at him and breathe heavily, he sighed and leaned back.

“You don’t seem to be all that happy about being right, luv,” he said gently. “Were you hopin’ to be wrong?”

“What? Oh, no. God, no! I’m sorry. I just…the last time I saw you, you were burning up from the inside out. It’s just…I’m sorry.”

She jumped up and ran to the other end of the couch, leaning down, hugging him quickly and babbbling, “I didn’t mean to make you think I didn’t – don’t want you back. I just – I was trying so hard not to believe it, that I—“ She stopped and straightened up, never taking her eyes off his puzzled face. “I just can’t believe it. That’s all. You’re really back.”

He glanced up into her wide eyes and said quietly, “Not really ‘back’, you know, pet. I am a ghost. Means I’m dead – just stuck here for some reason.”

“Well,” she gave a shaky laugh, “you’ve always been ‘dead’, actually. As long as I’ve known you, anyway. You’re just a different kind of dead – more with the invisible and less with the ‘grrr’ and the blood drinking.”

She walked back to her end of the couch and sat down, twisting her hands together in the awkward silence that followed her tardy welcome back hug.

“So, now what, Slayer?”

His face was blank and his gaze just curious, but she could see the way his jaw was clenched and his fingers were digging into the arm of the couch. Buffy shook her head, still lost in her own storm of emotions. It was Spike, but it wasn’t Spike. She was glad to see him, but she had inured herself to the idea that he was gone forever, and had no idea where or how to fit him back into her life.

Or if he even wants to be in my life. Got to remember that. He doesn’t know me.

“Tell you what, pet. While you get your act together, I’m going to go put my boots on. Sun’s down now.”

She didn’t respond as he silently left the room, sitting still and trying to control the roiling emotions that seemed determined to keep her speechless for the rest of the night.

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

When Spike returned to the library, boots and coat on, to find Buffy still sitting exactly where and how he’d left her, he stopped in the doorway. He hadn’t made any attempt to be quiet as he’d walked down the hall in his heavy boots, so he knew that she was aware of him. When she still didn’t acknowledge his presence after a few uncomfortable minutes, he blew out his breath and said, “I’ll be outside. Just in case you care.”

He spun around and strode to the front door, flinging it open and bursting out into the rapidly darkening night, desperate for more answers, but too puzzled by her reaction to ask for them. He paced back and forth across the lawn, knowing from long experience exactly how far he could go before being flung back into the house.

Buffy jumped when she heard the door bang against the wall and suddenly she realized what he had said.

Oh god, I’m totally messing this up. He thinks I don’t want him here, that I…how can I convince him that I’m glad to see him without telling him what we were to each other? I’m not sure I even can tell him what we were – he loved me, but then he went on without me. I loved him, but it took me until he was dying to tell him. We’re not exactly anyone’s idea of the perfect couple.

She jumped to her feet, running to the open door and sliding to a halt when she saw the agitated vampire pacing around the yard. With his leather coat billowing around his legs, he looked enough like the old Spike to make her gasp again. Vampire hearing - still a part of the ghostly package apparently - caused him to glance up and catch her eyes. They stared at each other for long minutes, Buffy unsure of what to say, Spike becoming more and more confused the longer she refused to speak to him.

When he could take the silence no longer, he strode to where she was standing and held out his arms in a ‘bring it on’ gesture.

“Alright then, Slayer. Let’s have it. Whatever it is you think you need to get out of your system, let’s do it. Don’t know what it is about me being who I am that’s got your knickers in a twist, but it’s obviously something you need to work out.”

“I don’t want to fight you,” she whispered.

“Too bad. I’ve got some energy to work off.”

Without further conversation, he grabbed her arm and yanked her down onto the lawn with him. Instinctively, she pulled away from his hand and went into a fighting stance.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?” she hissed. “I thought you wanted to know who you are – were – whatever.”

“What’s wrong with me is that I don’t know any more now than I did before the big reveal. I get that I’m a real ghost to you, now. Somebody that you thought was dead and gone. What I don’t get is why it suddenly made you mute. I’m startin’ to think you liked me better when you thought you were never going to see me again.”

“That’s just stupid!”

“Is it? ‘cause, I’m not feeling the love here, Slayer. Is that because you aren’t one of those ‘friends’ you told me I have? Do we have some kind of history I should know about?”

Buffy couldn’t suppress the hysterical giggle that exploded from her mouth and turned into uncontrollable laughter. Laughter which, in turn, became gasping sobs that she struggled to smother as Spike glared at her, his fists clenched tightly and his face twisted with confusion and anger. When she collapsed at his feet, clutching her arms around her body, rocking back and forth and shuddering with the effort to control her sobbing laughter, he threw up his hands and stomped away; only to stride back immediately and squat down beside her.

He put a tentative hand on her back, patting it awkwardly.

“Come on, Slayer – Buffy – don’t…stop crying, pet. Whatever I said…I’m sorry, alright? Didn’t mean to get you all…Please, luv. Stop crying.”

Hiccuping and nodding, Buffy did her best to get herself under control. She could still feel the hysterical laughter threatening to bubble up again every time she thought about his innocent question. She took one final, deep breath and blew it out explosively. When she was able to take the next several breaths without losing it, she raised her head and met his worried gaze.

“I’m sorry,” she said hoarsely. “I just - it just all hit me at once. You’re really here. I mean, yeah, okay, a ghost; and you don’t know who anybody is - but you’re here. I can see you. I can talk to you. I can feel you.”

Putting actions to words, she lifted her hand and touched his cheek. When he remained still and made no complaint, she ran her hand over his face, tracing his cheekbones, the scar in his eyebrow and his forehead.

“Pretty silly, huh?” she said, giving him a rueful smile and dropping her hand. “So much for playing it cool and letting you get comfortable with everything before…”

He rose gracefully to his feet and held out his hand to her.

“Come on, pet. Let’s go back inside and you can explain your meltdown, yeah?”

Taking his hand, she allowed him to pull her to her feet, but hesitated as they reached the porch.

“Could we just sit here? On the porch?”

“Sure.” He shrugged and waited until she’d settled herself on the stone steps, then sat beside her – close enough to touch if she stretched, but far enough away not to be in her personal space. He waited as patiently as he could, but soon began to fidget when she didn’t speak.

“So, Slayer, I’m thinking it was the “we aren’t friends” or the “we have a history” that set you off. Are you gonna explain it to me?”

Buffy exhaled loudly again. “Can I just – for now -- say…we have a history? Just for right now,” she hastened to add when she heard a smothered growl. “Just until I bring you up to speed on who you are – were –and you decide how much you really want to know.”

“Can you do that? Without bringing yourself into it?”

“Yeah. I can.” She looked up at him from under her eyelashes and gave a small smile. “It’s not like I was even alive for most of the time you were around.”

“I’m old, huh?”

She nodded. “Yep. As dirt.”

“Okay, then, miss just-born-yesterday, tell me all about myself. I am William Pratt, right?”

“Well…you were. When you were human. I don’t know a whole lot about William. Spike – you -- lied about what you were like before you were turned.” Buffy looked over her shoulder at the big house with the room full of books and art and shook her head. “I’ve always been bad,” she scoffed. “Yeah, right!”

He shook his head with her. “Don’t know what I might have told you, pet, but I’m pretty sure the man who lived in this house was a bit of a nance.”

“Yeah, we figured that out – or Giles did, anyway. Back when you were…around a lot. He wanted to know more about you, so he went through the old Council’s records for anything they had on William the Bloody.”

“William the Bloody? And what’s a Giles?”

“Giles is – used to be my watcher. He’s the head of the new Watcher’s Council now.” She peered at him again. “You’ve…uh…met him. Briefly.”

He frowned; then laughed. “That tweedy old bloke I threw out of here?” he asked. “That’s who that was?”

“Yeah. You – I mean the old you – had some reasons to be pissed at him, I guess. But I don’t know why you – new you – would be so sure you didn’t like him.”

He shrugged. “Me neither. But I remember it. Just didn’t want that wanker in my house. Couldn’t tell you why. A bit like thinking your sis had no right to be thinking about shagging, yeah?”

“Yeah. Kinda makes me think those memories are in there somewhere…”

“Could be, pet. But if they are, I can’t find ‘em. Don’t you think I’ve driven myself half-crazy tryin’ to figure out who I was and what I did to be made to haunt this old place forever? Trust me, Slayer. If I had a clue about any of this, I’d be all over it, trying to suss out the rest.”

She nodded. “I suppose that’s true. You always have been very…persistent.”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing,” he said, risking a light poke to her arm and grateful for the small smile he earned.

“Sometimes it is…sometimes it isn’t –wasn’t.”

“Alright, pet. We’ve established who the wanker is that I tossed out, and that I have reason to know he’s a wanker; but what about William the Bloody? Is that one of my names? How did I get it?”

“Did I mention – vampire?”

“Ah…” He tilted his head at her. “So, I’m guessin’ I wasn’t endowed with this soul when I first became a vampire. Bit of a badass, was I?”

Buffy rolled her eyes at the note of pride in his voice.

“You’d like to think so,” she muttered, giving his booted foot a nudge. “But Giles did some more research after you got the soul, and he says you had that name before you were turned. Something about your poetry being kinda sucky?”

“Hey!”

She giggled and his indignation quickly faded to a soft smile.

“You’ve got a cute laugh, Slayer,” he said. “You should do it more often.”

Buffy snorted. “I haven’t had all that much to laugh about since I was called,” she responded, raising her eyes to his. “Although, I’ve got say, giving you a hard time and making you mad usually made me smile.”

“Glad you found me useful,” he said with a grin. “Did you used to make me mad a lot?”

“Well, yeah, I guess so. You know, what with messing up all your lame plans to kill me, and…”

“I tried to kill you?” There was nothing fake about the horrified voice with which he responded to her casual remark, and she was quickly reminded that he had no idea about their history.

“Okay, see this is what happens when you distract me and I don’t get to start at the beginning.”

“Let’s have it then,” he growled. “Get back to that beginning and get me up to why I was trying to kill a slayer.”

“THE Slayer,” she reminded him primly. “I was the Slayer at the time.”

“Fine! The Slayer. Go on.”

“Okay, the history of Spike, part I…”

~~~~~~~~~~

Hours later, when Buffy had talked her way from what little she knew of William’s turning, and the more extensive information on his sire, Drusilla, and Darla and Angelus – up to the point where Angel was cursed with the soul – Spike stopped her with a raised hand.

“The Scourge of Europe?”

“Well, I think Angelus and Darla might have earned that name first – but once you and Dru joined the little family, it was…it was a pretty rough time for Europe. The Watcher’s Diaries are full of stuff about the four of you. Of course, some of it turned out to be exaggerated or just plain wrong- but nobody knew that until Angel started helping me and he corrected a few things for Giles. And you…you told me a little bit about…things before you came to Sunnydale.”

She paused to glare at him. “Most of which turned out to be lies, by the way, `Mr I’ve always been bad’.”

“You haven’t told me anything yet that doesn’t make me sound like a bloodthirsty demon, Slayer.” His voice was so quiet, and his expression so devastated that she was quickly reminded of how his victims had haunted him after he got the soul back. “Might be a blessing that I don’t remember any of this.”

Buffy rested her fingers briefly on top of his clenched hands.

“You’ve made up for it, since,” she assured him, withdrawing her hand quickly when he flinched from her touch.

He nodded and moved farther away from her. “Alright then, so this Angelus, he did for the wrong gypsy girl and got himself cursed with a soul. Then what?”

Buffy searched her memories for what little she knew about their time with souled Angel and after he left them. All she knew for sure was that he had abandoned or been kicked out of his family shortly after Spike killed his first slayer. Speaking softly and qualifying much of what she said with “as far as we know” or “well, according to Angel” she talked about how they left a Europe that was no longer safe for them and spent some time in China. When she got to Spike’s first encounter with a slayer, she hesitated.

“Well? Met my first slayer, and then what?”

“And then you killed her,” she said flatly.

He surged to his feet and strode away to the edge of his allowed distance, standing with his back to her and staring towards the not quite visible slayer school. He remained there for so long that Buffy began to fear he was planning to greet the sunrise. When he finally strode back to her, he was trembling and she instinctively reached for his hand, only to feel him snatch it away.

“How can you stand to be around me?” he demanded. “How can any of them stand to be around me?”

“They don’t know who you are,” she said as calmly as she could. “And none of them know you like I do. You’re a good man, William. A good man who conquered his demon and earned his soul – a soul that he used to save the world.”

He sank onto the steps beside her and dropped his head into his hands, giving a shaky laugh.

“You know, there’s a part of me that is actually proud I was able to kill a slayer. I know it’s wrong, and I know that if I had it to do over… But part of me is proud, Buffy. You need to know that.”

“I do know that, Spike—“ They both gave a little start at her first use of the name by which she knew him—“And I’m…I’m surprisingly all right with that. Her job was to slay you. You fought; she lost. It happens. Back then, most slayers never lived past their sixteenth or seventeenth birthdays. And by the time some vampire or demon had their `one good day’ most of them would have dusted hundreds, if not thousands of vampires. Vampires and slayers are natural enemies.”

He peered at her out of the corners of his eyes.

“You and I. Are we natural enemies?”

“We were -- when we first met. You tried to kill me; I tried to kill you - it’s just how it was supposed to be.”

“Wonder what changed for us?”

“Time to go back to China!” Buffy said brightly. “Where was I?”

“I’d just killed a slayer.”

“Oh yeah. So, anyway, I’m a little fuzzy on stuff for the next, oh, hundred years or so, after that. I know that you and Dru traveled a lot – I think you were in South America for a while – but I don’t know everything you did or everywhere you went. Angel said something once about running into you during World War II, but he never finished the story so I don’t know where you were or why.”

“What about the rest of my…family? Do you know where they went?”

Buffy shrugged. “I’ll run through what I know – it’s not much. I can tell you where everybody ended up – but that’s about it.”

Spike studied her face, which clearly indicated her reluctance to bring the conversation into a more modern time frame.

“Tell you what, Slayer. Instead of filling me in on my whole life just now, why don’t you give me some time to think about what you’ve told me? Let me see if or how it jogs my memory before you waste any more breath on me, yeah?”

“Oh. Okay. That’s …that’s probably a good--”

Buffy’s relief was palpable and his mouth twisted in a wry smile.

“Thought maybe you’d like that idea.”

She sighed. “I’m not trying to blow you off. Really, I’m not. It’s just that, considering the way you reacted to hearing that you’d killed one slayer…”

“ONE slayer! There were more?”

“Oops?”

He shook his head. “You’re right, luv. I don’t want to know. Not right now, anyway. Let’s talk about something else.”

“Like what?”

“I dunno. Like…where do you live when you aren’t watchin’ over little sis? How did you go from The Slayer to a slayer? Are you married? Engaged? Where are you from? Where and when were you born? What was it like to be the only slayer?”

“Do I get to choose which ones to answer?” she asked with a small smile.

“Jus’ tell me a bit about yourself. That’s all. You know so much about me, seems only fair to let me play catch-up.”

“Okay, let me see. I’m originally from a place in California…that’s in the United States—“

At Spike’s nod, she launched into a severely edited version of her life before and after she was called, and her life since she’d become one of many slayers rather than the one girl in all the world. When she’d finished, pausing as necessary to answer specific questions from the attentive ghost-vampire, she leaned back on her elbows and exhaled.

“Whew! I don’t know the last time I talked so long – or about myself so much.”

“I appreciate it, pet. Now I feel like I know you a little bit. Some things about you, anyway.” He stood up and turned to offer her his hand. “I think there were some pretty big gaps in there, but the sun’s thinkin’ about comin’ up and I need to get back inside.”

“I should go,” she said, allowing him to pull her up, then dropping his hand. “Is there anything you need? Anything you’d like me to pick up for you in town?”

He shrugged. “What would I need? I don’t eat, can sleep all day, have my books…”

“Um, books that were written after 1900?” She smiled to take the sting out of her words. “Music? Spi- you used to like music. Well, if you can call what the Ramones do music…”

He laughed. “I’m fine, luv. Been livin’ like this for a long time. I appreciate the offer, though. I’ll think about it and make you a shopping list if I come up with anything.”

“Okay, then. I guess I’ll see you tomorrow night…if you want me to come ba-“

“I want you to come back,” he said before she could finish. “How could you doubt it?”

“Well, it’s a lot to think about and—“

“And you still owe me another twenty or thirty years of history – including the part that includes you. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about that, Slayer. I’m lettin’ you off easy tonight.”

“Well, that’s not like you.” She smiled as she spoke. “You’ve never let me off easy.”

He smiled back and shrugged. “What can I say? Don’t go expectin’ it every time.”

“I wouldn’t dream of it. Good-night, Spike.”

“More like ‘good morning’, I’m afraid. I’ve kept you all night.”

“Wouldn’t be the first time,” she shouted as she began jogging back towards town.

“You will be explainin’ that one, Slayer!” he shouted after her.

Her light-hearted giggle floated back to him, making him smile in spite of himself.

“You will be explainin’ that, luv,” he repeated to himself as he opened the door and retreated from the lightening sky.

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