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 9

It was not yet dark when Buffy had finished eating and changed into something comfortable and flattering to wear to Spike’s. She resolutely pushed Giles’ suggestion of what could happen to Spike if he recovered his memories to the back of her mind as she trudged up the small rise to the house. With the sun still up, Spike was not waiting for her on the porch this time, and she climbed the steps to let herself in.

“Knock, knock?” she called, as she closed the door behind her. There was something about it being a real house rather than just a vampire’s home in a crypt that made her less inclined to just barge in. There was no reply, and no one in the library, so she made her way to the kitchen and the door to Spike’s bedroom.

“Spike? Are you up yet?”

“If I wasn’t, I would be now, wouldn’t I?” he grumbled from below. She saw the soft glow from the bedside lamp as he turned it on.

“Can I come down? Are you decent?”

“No. Not decent – but invisible. Just as good as…”

Not with the visual I’m getting, it isn’t.

“Ok, here I come then.”

She walked down the stairs and glanced towards the bed to see the shape of legs under the sheet covering what was apparently the lower part of Spike’s body. She pushed his jeans off the chair and sat down.

“Making yourself right at home, aren’t you, luv?” The warmth and humor she could hear in his voice told her that he wasn’t really mad, but she apologized anyway.

“I’m sorry. I thought you’d be awake by now. Do you want me to come back later?”

The linens stirred as he sat up straighter and threw them back. She heard his feet hit the floor beside the bed and his disembodied voice said, “Throw me my pants, would you, Slayer?”

Buffy picked his jeans up from where she’d dropped them and tossed them in the general direction of the voice. They stopped in midair, then slowly dropped and became leg shaped. Once again she watched him zip up his pants and fasten the button, wondering as she did how many times she’d watched those same motions during their time together so many years ago. She didn’t realize that her eyes had glazed over until she felt him beside her and his hand on her shoulder.

“Slayer? Buffy? Where’d you go?”

“Huh?” She startled, coming back to herself, flushing as he faded into sight and she could see the smirk on his face.

“I asked where you went, luv. You watched me fastenin’ my pants…again…and then you went away.”

“I’m sorry,” she mumbled, “I seem to be saying that to you a lot, don’t I?”

“Yeah, a bit. Is that something you used to have to do a lot - apologize to me?”

“Apolo—to you?” Buffy’s completely dumbstruck expression told him that he’d made a wrong guess.

“I’m takin’ it that’s a ‘no’,” he said, dropping his hand and stepping away.

“It is,” she replied. “But it shouldn’t have been. I probably owe you way more than you’ve got from me so far.”

“Good to know,” he grinned. “The Slayer owes me lots of apologies.”

“Yeah, well, don’t get too used to them. I’m pretty sure my sudden attack of good manners is gonna evaporate pretty soon.”

“That so?” he said as he walked to the bed and picked up the tee shirt she’d worn the night before. He pulled it on, covering the bare chest that she was having a hard time keeping her eyes off, and turning to face her. “I’ll keep that in mind. Don’t want to use up all those `I’m sorry’s at one time, do I?”

When she just rolled her eyes and sat back down, he walked back to the bed and dropped onto it, leaning back against the headboard. He crossed his hands behind his head and gazed at her until she began to squirm uncomfortably.

“So, Slayer,” he said finally. “Are you going to answer my question?”

“What question?” Buffy had genuinely forgotten what had started the conversation and she blinked at him, her brow furrowed.

“Where you went while I was getting dressed. You were watching, and then you were seeing something else. I’d like to know what it was.”

“The truth?” she challenged.

“That’d be my first choice, yeah.”

“What if you don’t like it?”

“Why don’t you let me worry about what I like and don’t like and jus’ tell me what you find so fascinating about watching me zip up my pants?”

She stared at him for a few seconds, then nodded and squared her shoulders. “Fine. I was watching you and I was remembering how many times before I’ve watched you do that.” She met his eyes firmly, her chin up and her posture daring him to say something crude.

He stared back, then sat up and dropped his feet over the side of the bed. He stood, walked over, and offered her his hand to help her out of the chair. In spite of the absurdity of someone like her needing assistance to rise, she took his hand and allowed him to pull her to her feet. His hand felt as it always had – cooler than normal, but solid and with calluses where you’d expect to find them. When she was standing beside him, he dropped her hand and gestured for her to precede him up the stairs. He waited until she was a few steps ahead before saying quietly, “I’m guessing the history lesson is about to get a lot more interesting and I’m thinking my bedroom might not be the best place for it.”

She snorted as she entered the kitchen and turned to face him, catching her breath in a small gasp as she got a glimpse of his unguarded face and the lustful look on it. Seeing that he’d been caught, Spike played it up – running his eyes over her body and licking his lips.

“I’m just sayin’… No sense letting our hormones get in the way of your history lesson.”

“You just worry about your own hormones, buddy. Mine are under perfect control.”

“’s that so?” He moved closer to her and leaned down to breathe in her ear. “’s not what your body’s telling mine.”

Buffy glanced down at the telltale bulge in his jeans and stepped away. “My body doesn’t know that you don’t know me and don’t lo-- and that you don’t know anything about us. You keep yours under control, and let me worry about mine.”

He nodded, surprising her by agreeing so quickly.

“You’re right, luv. Even if you were willin’, a gentleman shouldn’t try to take advantage of …whatever I’d be taking advantage of.” He cocked his head at her and asked, “You are going to tell me what that is, aren’t you? I think we’re long past waiting for you to work your way up to teling me what I should know about us.”

“Yes, I’m going to tell you. That’s why I told you the truth about what I was thinking downstairs. But I have other important stuff to tell you, too. Stuff you need to know.”

“Right now, all I need to know is why my pants get tight every time I get near you, and why snuggling up with a tee shirt that smelled like you gave me the most restful sleep I’ve had since I got to this place.”

As they spoke, they moved towards the library and once again sat down facing each other from opposite ends of the couch. Buffy was silent at first, running her eyes over his face and body in a way that she hadn’t allowed herself to do when she was trying to keep their relationship the very last thing she told him about. When she’d satisfied herself that she had rememorized every feature, she focused on her wringing hands and began to speak.

“We’ve had a complicated relationship….God, that’s like the understatement of the century!” She gave a shaky laugh and glanced up at him.

“Slayer and vampire – that’s a complication right there, innit? Assuming I wasn’t all souled up at the time.”

She shook her head. “You weren’t. And, at first, we really didn’t like each other very much….” She grinned at him. “In spite of being engaged for almost a whole day. For just a little while, you called me ‘sweetheart’ instead of the ‘bane of my bloody existence’.”

“Engaged? To the bane of my existence?”

“It was a spell. We got over it and went back to hating each other.”

At his disbelieving snort, she insisted, “We did! I just didn’t stake you because you were all impotent…” Over his snarled, “Bloody lie that is!” she went on to explain that he’d made up with his vampire girlfriend and had spent the summer plotting ways to get his chip out.

When she told him about the aborted attempt to get it out, and his attempt to bite her when he thought it was gone, he looked abashed and offered, “Sorry?”

Buffy waved her hand dismissively. “No biggie. You started to change after that. Hanging out with us more, checking in on my mom; and then…”

She chewed her lips and twisted her hands together again. When she could tell that he was losing patience, she let it all out in one long exhalation.

“Andthenyouchainedmeupinyourcryptandtoldmeyoulovedme”

There was a crashing silence until Buffy risked a glance at his shocked face. At the sight of her worried eyes, he managed to close his gaping mouth and nod. Buffy watched him visibly gain control of himself before he managed to speak.

“I’m goin’ to guess there was no spell involved this time?”

“No spell.”

“And how did you take this happy news?”

“About like you might expect…But, in my defense, you did have me chained up at the time, and it was after you and your ho-bag sire knocked me out with a cattle prod. And you threatened to feed me to her if I didn’t tell you that you had a chance with me.”

“Did I?”

“Did you what? Do all that, or have a chance with me?”

“Either. Both.”

“You did do that. You also offered to dust Dru for me – which, I’ve got to admit was tempting. Then Harmony showed up and the whole thing kind of got out of your control.”

“Three women in the same room and it got out of my control? Bloody shocked, I am.”

Buffy laughed softly. “It wasn’t one of your better moments. Both vamps dumped you, and I was so mad I can’t believe you weren’t dust right that second.”

“Why wasn’t I dust?” he asked curiously. “How could you let me walk?”

“I don’t know. Because we had…you were…it was sorta …pitiful... and sweet, in a demented kind of way. Anyway, I’d already had your invitation to our house revoked and the look on your face when you hit that barrier,” she paused, then looked right at him. “I think it would’ve been kinder to have staked you.”

“So, Slayer…” She couldn’t tell from his tone or the blank expression on his face what he was thinking. “How did we get from ‘over my dead body’ to you being an expert on how I put my pants on?”

“Actually,” she watched him carefully as she spoke, “it was more like ‘the only chance you had with me was when I was unconscious.’”

“Nice. Are you always that sensitive when you’re lettin’ some poor bloke down?”

“Only vampires who’ve tried to kill me and my friends and who think falling in love with me makes it all okay.”

He cocked his head at her and moved closer, taking one of her hands in his and turning it over so that he could plant a soft kiss on her palm. He smiled when he felt her heartbeat go up and watched her face flush.

“So, when did it start to make it all okay, pet? Cause I’m sensing that it did at some point, yeah?”

“Yeah,” she answered, taking her hand away and putting it behind her back. “It did. But it was kind of a long process – and not much fun for either of us most of the time.” She raised her eyes to his and said with a soft smile, “But it was worth it…for a while.”

“Just for a while?”

Buffy sighed and ran through as much as she felt he needed to know about Glory, Dawn and what he’d done for her.

“That’s when I started to realize that you really could love, that you could make unselfish decisions to protect someone else. Giles had always insisted that you couldn’t, and after Angelus…”

“You believed him.”

“I did. For a long time. Much longer than you deserved.”

“So, when do we get to me taking my pants off around you?”

Buffy huffed loudly. “Don’t you want to hear how we got to that point?”

“Eventually, I do. Right now, I just want to know how you went from feeling sorry for me to shagging me.” He raised an eyebrow. “There was shagging, I take it?”

“Oh, yeah. Lots of it. But not right then. It was later, and it only lasted a few months.”

“What happened?”

“I…I was using your body – and your feelings for me – to help me forget…something I wanted to forget. And when I started feeling more like myself, I realized it was wrong.”

“You broke up with me because you thought you shouldn’t be using my body? Didn’t I get a vote?” If she hadn’t been reliving her guilt, Buffy would have laughed at his whining tone.

Buffy shook her head. “No,” she whispered, “I just did it. To make myself feel better. I never thought about your feelings.” Her eyes flew to his. “Another apology I owe you, I guess.”

“’s alright, pet. Not like I remember it, is it?” He sighed and touched her cheek with his finger. “And then what?”

“And then there was…stuff that happened, and you went off to Africa and got your soul. For me. You got it for me. The only vampire to ever do something like that. You were –are – a very special man, William Pratt.”

“Not a man, Buffy. Ghost of a vampire is all I am. All I ever will be.”

“Maybe…”

“Maybe?”

“Can we talk about the other stuff I wanted to tell you, and come back to us, later?”

“There’s more? After I got the soul?”

She nodded vigorously. “Much more – and more to tell you about what happened before, too. But I need – you need -- to know what the coven said about being a ghost. And, they could be wrong, you know. It might not be like that at all, but--”

“Spit it out, Slayer.”

He moved away from her, just far enough that there was no danger of accidental touching.

“The most common reason people become ghosts is that they have unfinished business here on this plane. And, usually, if and when they can take care of whatever’s keeping them here, they move on to…wherever they were supposed to go. According to the coven, that’s the easiest way to trap a spirit on this plane. They think that might be what happened to you.”

Buffy repeated the information Giles had given her as if she were reciting it for a slayer class. She waited while Spike thought about what she’d said and then nodded at her.

“Gonna be a bit tricky taking care of my business without having any way to know what that business was, innit?”

“Yeah. Without your memories, you might be kinda stuck here.”

“I’m beginning to think that wanker what dropped me off here knew more about me than he was tellin’”

“Does the name Wolfram and Hart mean anything to you?” Buffy asked, trying to hide her suspicions.

“No. Not that I can recall. Why?”

“It’s the evil law firm that you and Angel were fighting against when you…died again. It’s also the company that handled your ownership of this house. It’s a little bit too coincidental to suit me.”

He shook his head, standing up and growling with frustration.

“If I could just remember…”

“Did you miss the part about how you’d probably move on when you take care of what’s keeping you here?”

Buffy’s voice was very soft, but that didn’t disguise the sadness in it. He stopped his restless pacing and dropped to his knee in front of her.

“I just need to know, Buffy. Can decide for myself then if I want to move on, or stay here playing with slayers for the next hundred years. Not saying I’d rush off to take care of the business straight away, I just want to know.”

“I get that. I do. It’s just that you’ve been…gone. And now you’re here, and I…I missed you. And I thought I was over it – the missage -- but now you’re here and I…” She met his curious gaze and said with as much honesty as she’d ever shown him, “I don’t think I could stand to mourn for you again, Spike.”

His hand brushed the side of her face. “Nor do I want you to, luv. But I’m not really me, am I? Jus’ some stranger who looks and talks like the man – vampire – you knew. If I’m going to be here, I’d just as soon be really me. The me who remembers what he had with you, and what he would be losing if he moved on.”

She nodded and sat up straighter, putting her shoulders back and raising her chin.

“Of course you want to remember. And I want you to. We’ll worry about what might happen to you after we figure out how to get your memories back. Then, if you really have unfinished business to take care of, I…I’ll help you do it.”

He cocked his head at her and rocked back on his heels.

“You’re quite a woman, Buffy. Can see why I might have fallen in love with you – enemy or not. Bloody hell, only known you a few days and I’m already half in love with you all over again.”

“Don’t patronize me,” she snapped. “You’re not in love with me. You barely know me. I’m not doing this to make you love me; I’m doing it because it’s the right thing to do and I owe it to you.”

“You’re right. You deserve better from me. How are you with, I’m already completely in lust with you?”

In spite of herself, Buffy felt the corners of her mouth twitch.

“That’s more like the piggy Spike I know.”

“Right. Piggy Spike it is, then. Whatever it takes to make you smile.”

Harmony re-established, Buffy took up where she’d left off in his history lesson, recapping what she’d told him about Dawn’s arrival, Glory and her minions, and ending with the battle at the tower. She stopped to collect her thoughts as to what she wanted to say about the end of the battle, smiling gratefully when Spike went to the kitchen and came back with a chipped teacup full of water.

“Sorry I can’t do any better than this,” he apologized. “Don’t need anything for myself, so I have to make do with what’s got left in the pantry. At least I know the well is a good one.”

“This is fine, thank you.” She drained the cup and smiled at him again. “If I’m going to be talking so much every night, I guess I’d better bring my own stash of bottled water to keep here. And maybe some fruit…and some crackers…”

“Gonna move in, are you?” he teased gently.

“You got a problem with that?” she asked with mock belligerence.

“No, luv. Not a bit. In fact, if you wanted to move in here permanent-like…”

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea,” she said, suddenly serious.

“Just joking, Slayer. No need to get all ‘I’m not that kind of girl’ on me.”

“I knew that.”

“Did not. You thought I was asking you to share my bed.”

“I sooo did not!”

“Uh huh.”

“Shut up!”

“Make me.”

Buffy stared into his laughing eyes for a few seconds.

“I jumped off the tower and died.”

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