First 3 chapters are here.
Next three chapters behind the cut:
To avoid Joyce’s probing questions about Spike and his crypt, Buffy left soon to go to the Magic Box, where she found Spike and Giles in the training room. Spike was laughing at Giles who was peppering him with questions. He held a clipboard in his hand and was jotting down Spike’s answers as he sputtered them out.
“No. I can’t turn into a bat whenever I want to. If I could, I wouldn’t! Don’t like not being able to take care of myself.”
“But when you’re a bat, you are one hundred percent a bat, are you not? You can’t speak so as to be understood, you have bat anatomy, you can fly, you have fur—”
“His eyes are still blue when he’s a bat,” Buffy interrupted. “That’s not a normal color for a bat. At least I don’t think it is….” she trailed off, realizing she hadn’t done any research on bat eye color.
“I don’t believe it is,” Giles agreed. “How interesting.” He scribbled more notes on his clipboard.
“How’s your arm?” Buffy asked Spike, noting that it was still wrapped inside his shirt.
“I’ll live. How about you?”
“A lot better, but there’s at least one place that is still pretty pissed off at me. I can’t reach up very high without feeling like I’m ripping something open.”
Giles glanced up from his clipboard. “You were injured? Seriously so?”
“Didn’t you tell him?” Buffy gawked at Spike. “We could have died and you didn’t tell him about it?”
“Hey, he’s not my watcher,” Spike blustered. “He didn’t even ask what was wrong with me. All he wanted to know was what it was like to turn into a bat every night.”
For the first time, Giles seemed to notice that Spike only had one arm visible. “Were you injured while you were a bat?”
“Oh, now you’re curious,” Spike snorted. “Yeah. The ghoul that was trying to take out the Slayer swatted me out of the sky and broke my wing. Which turns out to be my shoulder when I’m not in bat form. Hurts like a bloody bastard, in case you’re interested.”
Giles turned to Buffy. “And what happened to you? Was this all part of the same incident?”
Buffy glanced at Spike, who shrugged and leaned back against a pile of mats. “You tell him, luv,” he said.
Buffy quickly recapped the evening’s events, starting with Spike’s attempts to distract the ghoul, and ending with the long, painful trek to Spike’s crypt. Having already understood that Spike had been in bat form, as well as seriously injured, Giles didn’t have the shocked response that Joyce did at hearing that Buffy spent the night on Spike’s couch. Instead, he questioned her about how she’d injured herself, and what still seemed damaged.
“After I did it, everything hurt. My back, my stomach, my ribs…. I could barely stand up or walk. I sort of hobbled with little baby steps, hunched over like an old lady. I was better this morning, and after a good, long, hot bath and some heavy-duty Tylenol, I thought I was fine. Until I tried to reach a plate on a high shelf.” Buffy rubbed her side as she remembered the stabbing pain. “Something in here is still not happy about throwing that statue.”
Giles nodded his head, frowning at the way she was holding her side. “No doubt you tore a large muscle in there. I suggest you take some more time to heal. And try to avoid tossing large statues.” He cleared his throat. “You should probably always have a sword with you anyway.”
He glanced back at Spike. “As should you, I suppose. I see you brought one with you.”
Spike rolled his eyes and Buffy giggled. “Giles, when Spike is a bat, he doesn’t weigh as much as a stake—never mind a sword! And he can’t fly now, so all he can do is sit on my shoulder and try to tell me if he hears or smells something.”
“Or sees something,” Spike put in. “Vampire night sight is good, but when I’m a bat, it’s like I’m seeing and hearing a whole new world.”
“Interesting…. “ Giles scribbled again. “That could be very helpful for Buffy if there was only some way for you to communicate with her.” He stared at Buffy. “How do you communicate now?”
Buffy shrugged. “He can understand me, so he can nod ‘yes’ or shake his head ‘no’. And sometimes, when he’s really mad, I can tell he swearing. “ She giggled at Spike, who smirked at her.
Giles turned to Spike. “If you two could work out some sort of system of communication, it could be quite useful to Buffy to have eyes and ears in the air, so to speak.”
Buffy and Spike exchanged a long look. He quirked up one eyebrow at her. “Up to you, luv. It’s not like either one of us is going to be taking on anything tonight. We could work on a system of some sort.”
“I guess we could. I told Mom I’d bring you home with me so she could see what a cute little bat you are and not be worried that we spent the night together.”
“Together?” Giles looked back and forth between as Buffy stammered and tried to explain while Spike roared with laughter.
“Not together, together! I mean he was a bat! I just meant that she was all ‘why did you spend the night with Spike?’ and I tried to explain that I couldn’t come home because I couldn’t move without crying, and that Spike wasn’t as big as my hand, and he was a bat with a broken wing, so my virtue wasn’t in any danger, and….” Buffy ran out of breath, shooting a glare at Spike, who was still laughing.
“Ah,” Giles said, also glaring at Spike who subsided to silent tiny smirk. “Indeed. You were perfectly safe from the big bad vampire…bat.” He gave a sigh. “And will be again tonight, I presume, unless Willow and Tara have had better success than I at coming up with a counter spell.”
“Exactly. Not to mention the chip and his broken shoulder—not that I’d use that against him unless he was trying to kill me, but he’s pretty harmless now too. Just not as cuddly.”
“Speaking of harmless,” Giles said, reaching for his notes. “Does the chip not work when you are a bat?”
Spike blinked. “Got no bloody idea, do I? I eat bugs when I’m a bat, except when the Slayer pours blood into a bowl for me. It’s not like I’ve got a death wish and started trying to bite humans while she was around.”
“So, you don’t know then?”
“We can try to find out tonight while we’re working on learning to communicate. He’s bound to get mad at me for something, and he can try to bite me,” Buffy threw out casually.
Both men stared at her with mouths agape and eyes wide. Spike recovered first, purring, “Could do that any time you want to, Slayer. I’ll wager if you ask me to do it, the chip might not even care….”
Sending Spike a threatening look, Giles said, “That’s a terrible idea, Buffy! What if it turns out he can bite?”
She frowned at both of them. “Then you’ll have an answer to your question. Sheesh, Giles. It’s not like a teeny little bat is going to hurt me. And if he did try to really hurt me, I’d smack him down and break his other wing!”
“Meanwhile,” Spike said, “do me a favor and keep looking for some way to break this bloody curse. I don’t fancy spending the rest of my life being a flying rodent for half of it.”
“Yes, yes. We’ll continue to work on it. In the meantime, I should like very much to observe the transformation myself. Perhaps I will notice something that—”
“Bugger!” Spike said, just before his clothes collapsed onto the floor, leaving a small, snarling bat under them.
“Too late!” Buffy said, lifting the shirt up as carefully as possible in case Spike’s wing was caught in it. Which is was, so she just held it up until he managed to crawl out using only his left wing.
“He said something just before he transformed. What was it?”
“I think he said ‘bugger”. Maybe he felt it coming on?” She knelt down near Spike and asked, “did you know it was going to happen?”
He nodded against the hand she was reaching out, snuggling into it as she lifted him from the floor and set him on the top of a pile of mats. She set him down gently, stroking his fur when he made squeaky little complaining noises.
“Well, that’s new, I think. Maybe it’s starting to wear off? If he can tell when it’s going to happen, maybe he can learn how to stop it.” Buffy looked at Giles for his thoughts.
He nodded. “Also an avenue to approach if we don’t have more success breaking the spell. It may turn out to be something he has control over, as Dracula himself appears to have. It’s possible he’s given Spike a new skill, just not let him in on how to utilize it properly.”
“That could be pretty cool, Spike,” Buffy said with enthusiasm. “Think about it! You could ride around on my shoulder until there was something to fight, then transform back to a vampire and help me kick butt. You’d be like my secret weapon!”
A tiny bat snort was the only reply.
Buffy picked him up again, being careful not to jostle his broken wing now that it wasn’t being held in place by anything. “We can work on that while we’re figuring out how to communicate while you’re a bat.”
She set him on her shoulder and waited until she felt his little claws grasping the fabric. “Is that going to work? Can you hang on with only one wing?”
He gave one of his nods, but squeaked until she frowned and looked around. “What? What are you squealing about?”
“Perhaps he wants you to take his clothes?”
“What? Oh, no. The idea is that he can leave something to wear any place he might need to have it. So, these will be his Magic Box clothes. Just put them in the weapon closet or somewhere he can find them if he has to change here. I’m going to collect some more tonight or tomorrow to leave at my mom’s and maybe your apartment. Any places he might find himself stuck until morning.”
She picked up the sword Spike had used to get through the tunnels safely, and said, “I’ll take this with us, though. Just in case.” She frowned at the way Spike was clinging to her shoulder, which didn’t seem very stable as he was clearly protecting the broken wing. “Maybe we should hold that wing down somehow? I think it really helped that his bad shoulder was inside a tight tee shirt all day. I’ll bet it would be good for the wing too. What do you think, Spike?”
He nodded against her face and huddled close to her neck.
“Not only is that probably an excellent idea, but it would probably be better for helping that wing…or shoulder… to heal if it was not only immobilized, but if he wasn’t risking jostling it by trying to hold on to you. Wait here a moment.”
Leaving them in the training room, he disappeared into the shop, returning soon with scissors, an Ace bandage, and a small box. “Let’s try this, shall we?” When Spike clearly growled at his approach, Giles handed the bandage material to Buffy. “Here. It seems he isn’t as tame as he appears,” he sniffed as though offended by the bat’s rejection.
Buffy took Spike off her shoulder and set him back on the mats. She took the scissors and cut a small strip of bandage. “Okay, Spike. I’m going to try to wrap your wing. If it hurts or I make it too tight, just say something.”
He gazed at her, his bright little eyes so full of trust that it made her uncomfortable. She bit her lip and carefully tried to strap his injured wing against his body without interfering with his use of the left one. Which turned out to be tricky, as the wings were attached to almost his entire little torso. She made one wrap around his lower abdomen, then decided it would be better to wrap it up and over his good shoulder. She frowned, then smiled at him in what she hoped looked like a reassuring fashion, as she brought the stretchy bandage around, up, and over again until she felt it was secure enough to tie off.
“Is that okay? It isn’t too tight is it?” Buffy tried to slip a finger between the fabric and his soft lower belly, flinching when he gave a little squeak. “I’m sorry! Did that hurt?”
Bat-Spike shook his head vigorously and Buffy was suddenly reminded of his gasp when she’d brushed the skin of his stomach that morning when he was in his normal form. She flushed and pulled her finger away.
“Sorry,” she muttered. “I didn’t think….”
He looked up and nudged her hand gently.
“Does that mean it’s okay? You aren’t mad at me?”
He nodded, and Buffy looked at Giles with excitement. “We communicated! Now I know how he says okay!”
Not having a clue what Buffy apologized for, and assuming it had to do with causing Spike pain, Giles smiled his agreement. “It’s a beginning,” he said. “Yes, no, and ‘it’s all right’ are a good start. Perhaps, as you experiment this evening, you will find ways for him to communicate important things that can warn you of dangers.”
“Like the bat version of ‘Duck’!” Buffy laughed, but Giles just nodded his head. “Exactly!”
Spike gave a short squeak, waited, then repeated it until Buffy said, “Is that ‘duck’?” He nodded and she beamed at him. “You can talk! I just need to learn the words you’re using.” Her smile faded. “I kind of suck at languages… this might be harder than I thought.”
Giles shook his head. “I shouldn’t think so. You’ve had no trouble picking up on his physical cues, and it’s not like you’ll be having lengthy conversations. A few more simple sounds like that one should be all you’ll need. Perhaps, when Spike is in his own form, you and he can work out a small vocabulary of sounds with meaning.”
“I guess that’s our cue to head for Mom’s to show her how harmless Spike is as a bat—” There was a tiny growl from Spike, who was glaring at her from his place on the mats. “Get over it,” she said, smiling to take the sting out of her words. “You’re not dangerous and you’re not even scary. You’re just adorable and harmless.” She stroked a finger across his head in what she hoped was a soothing manner.
Spike’s response was to nip at her finger with his tiny fangs, causing her to wince, but not drawing blood.
“He bit me!” She glared at the little creature staring at her defiantly. “I guess that answers your chip question, Giles.”
“So it seems,” he said thoughtfully. “So it seems….” Shaking himself and muttering, “something else to worry about,” he handed Buffy the small box, which she could now see was a sort of wooden cage. “I’d suggest you carry him in this if you can. There is less chance of something happening to him than if he is clinging to your clothing with only one ‘hand’.”
“It’s a cage, Giles!”
“And he is, temporarily or not, a wild animal. A crippled wild animal and unable to defend himself or even to avoid danger. I’m sure he’ll be fine with it.”
He avoided looking at Spike, whose glittering blue eyes, and muttered squeaks were making it obvious exactly how not fine he was with the idea of being in a cage, but when he tried to walk across the mat and lost his balance, saved from a fall only by Buffy’s slayer speed, he stopped complaining and with a sigh, allowed Buffy to place him in the box with bars and a roof. He hunkered down in one corner and refused to look at either one of them.
Buffy rolled her eyes at his behavior, but carefully picked up the cage and walked toward the exit.
“We’ll come back tomorrow and tell you what we’ve worked out.”
“Are you going to pout all night?” Buffy asked as they walked into her house. “’Cause that’s not going to be very helpful, you know.”
There was an almost inaudible sigh from the cage, then a small squeak that sounded almost apologetic.
“Did you just say ‘sorry’?” There was no answer, but she thought he probably had nodded. “Okay, then. I’m sorry it looks like a cage, but there’s no actual door on it, and I wouldn’t lock it if there was, and you’re a lot safer there than you would be on my shoulder. I think it’s a good idea until you can fly again.”
There was no reply to that either, as Joyce walked out of the kitchen to greet them.
“Is that Spike? Why is he locked in a cage?”
“It is. And he isn’t locked in a cage, he’s just sitting in something that makes it easier to carry him while he can’t fly. It’s for his own protection.” Buffy didn’t need to translate the sounds coming from the cage, but growled back at him. “It is for you. Quit being such a baby about it.”
She set the box down on the coffee table and watched as Spike maneuvered his way out of the opening and onto the table. He glanced up at Joyce and emitted a string of squeaks that had her asking Buffy, “What is he saying?”
“Um… I’m going to go with ‘hello’,” she said. “Since I can’t patrol for at least another day, we’re going to work on teaching me enough bat language that Spike will be able to communicate with me while we’re patrolling together.”
“Is he going to stay a bat?” Joyce peered closely at the furry little creature that looked nothing like the vampire she thought she knew. Except for the bright blue eyes that met hers with a surprising amount of warmth.
Buffy glanced at Spike and shrugged. “We don’t know. Giles and Willow and Tara are working on a way to break the spell, or lift the curse, or whatever it is that Drac did to him. And Spike’s going to work on trying to control it. Giles thinks maybe he will be able to change when he wants to if he can figure out how to do it.”
“So, he’s stuck like this?” Joyce stared at Spike with sympathy, but showed no inclination to pet him as Buffy was doing.
“Only at night. When the sun comes up, he’s himself again. I guess while we’re both too beat up to fight, we’re going to spend our time teaching me bat – or Spike’s version of bat, anyway. And maybe trying to figure out a way to teach him to control the change.”
By the time they’d had dinner and Joyce had relaxed enough to be comfortable around the little furry creature now sitting on Buffy’s shoulder again, they were all sitting in the living room and listening to Spike’s attempts to communicate. She’d handed Buffy a paper and pen, saying, “Why don’t you write down what you already know? That way, you’ll be able to study when Spike’s not around.”
After some time spent watching them getting steadily more frustrated as Spike tried to teach Buffy more complicated things than just “duck!” and “sorry”, Joyce put a hand to her head. “I think this is giving me a headache,” she said. “I’m going to go to bed now. Will you and Spike be staying here tonight?”
Remembering Spike’s lack of attire when changing back, Buffy smothered a laugh and said, “No, I have to take him back to his crypt before he changes back. If it’s not too late, I’ll come home, but if it is, I’ll probably just crash on his couch again. We need to work together tomorrow too, so we can work out a system while we’re both able to talk.”
“Well, he’s welcome to stay here,” Joyce said. “The basement will be nice and dark in the daytime, and then you won’t have to worry about food.”
“Spike’s food is in his crypt, Mom. He drinks blood, remember?” Seeing the expression on her mother’s face, Buffy sighed. “But, okay. I’ll just take him home and come back here. We can work in his crypt tomorrow.”
Wearing a more satisfied expression, Joyce wished them both a good evening studying bat, and took herself upstairs to bed.
“I guess she still doesn’t want me sleeping in your crypt, even when you’re just a cute little bat. I wonder what she’s so worried about? Are you rolling your eyes at me?”
Bat-Spike just nuzzled her neck until she realized how much she was enjoying it and pushed him away gently. “Okay, fine. I get it. She doesn’t want me waking up with a naked vampire in the room. But you’re a bat right now. And bats can’t… I mean you wouldn’t….” She paused, remembering his squeak when she’d put her finger under the lower part of his bandage. “Oh!” She blushed and looked away from him. “Please tell me I didn’t accidentally touch anything I shouldn’t have!”
Spike gave a series of very different sounding squeaks, which she soon realized was laughter.
“I did? No. I would have noticed. I didn’t touch any…. did I?”
He stopped laughing long enough to shake his head.
“Are you sure I didn’t?” He stared at her until she giggled and looked away. “Yeah, I guess you’d have noticed, huh?
He gave a very un-bat-like snort of agreement.
“So, what was the problem? Don’t you like it when I pet you? I mean, it seems like you do sometimes, and it calms you down, but then other times….” She exhaled in frustration. “I guess this is one of those conversations we need to have when you can talk, huh?”
He nodded again, moving closer to her neck and face. He began nuzzling her again, licking her earlobe with his tiny tongue, and breathing softly against her skin. Buffy caught herself relaxing into what he was doing, even as she felt it all the way down to body parts she hadn’t expected. With a start, she realized that the furry little creature at her neck was turning her on, and she gasped. At the sound of her sudden inhalation, Spike stopped what he was doing and moved away from her neck and ear.
Buffy took another deep breath, then looked at him from the corners of her eyes. “Were you trying to tell me why you make me stop sometimes?” He nodded slowly, visibly wary of how she was going to react. He gave a tiny sigh of relief when she didn’t try to hide her embarrassment but expressed no anger.
“Okay. I get it. I’m sorry. It just never occurred to me that a bat might get turned on by being petted….” She thought back to when she’d been nuzzling into his belly before he’d bolted away. She gasped again. “Oh my god! The other night, I was… I didn’t mean to…. Okay. No more petting the cute little furry bat. I promise.” She could feel the heat from her flushed face as the memory sank in.
Spike made a sound that could only be interpreted as a sad sigh. She thought about how much she enjoyed petting his soft fur, and how much he seemed to enjoy it, almost purring at times.
“Maybe… If I just stick to petting your back, and you stick to just nodding yes or no against my chin, maybe we don’t have to stop the petting completely. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but I… I kinda like doing it. I’ll miss it if I can’t pet you.”
His nod against her chin and accompanying soft chirps sounded like he was saying he’d miss it too.
“Okay then. That’s the plan. I’ll pet you more carefully, and you’ll let me know if I need to stop.” She sighed. “I think we made a lot of progress on language tonight. Maybe I should get you home. You can work on trying to control the change there, where if it works, you won’t be traumatizing my mother or sister.”
He nodded his agreement and waited for her to put him into the cage. She’d placed some crumpled fabric in it to give his claws something to hang on to, and to give him a softer place to sit. When he was all set, she picked up her sword and walked out into the night, neither of them giving a second thought to her comment about having a sister.
The walk to Restfield didn’t take long, and Buffy was soon pushing open the interior door and closing it behind her. She set Spike’s travel cage down on the top of a sarcophagus and watched as he climbed out and stretched his one good wing.
“I guess I don’t need to be here while you try to figure out how to change back and forth. Do you have any ideas about it?”
He shook his head, his frustration visible.
“Well, think about how you felt when you knew you were about to be a bat again. Maybe, if you can remember what it felt like, you can make yourself feel like that again? Like, right now, think about how you felt this morning before you woke up and were a vampire again. What were you doing or thinking about?”
Bat-Spike stared at her, his little blue eyes going wide with what could only be interpreted as panic.
“What? What were you thinking… or maybe dreaming… about?”
He shook his head as vigorously as he could without jostling his broken wing, but made no other attempt to try to explain.
“Fine. You can tell me tomorrow. It might be important, you know. Giles could probably help you figure it out—”
An explosion of sound from Spike that sounded like a cross between bat laughter and vigorous denials did nothing to clear up the issue for Buffy, and she shrugged.
“Well, okay. If you don’t want me to help, I’ll just go home so mom doesn’t worry that you’re going to seduce me or something.” As she spoke, Buffy was remembering how easily he’d turned her on by snuggling up to her neck, and she sent him a narrow-eyed glare. “Just what were you dreaming about, Spike?”
He ignored her question, just going into his new little bed and curling up there. He refused to meet her eyes, doing nothing to dispel her suspicions about what he may have been dreaming when he regained his real body.
“We’re going to discuss this again tomorrow,” she said. The only response she got was a tiny bat-snore from his nest in the cage.
As it turned out, between helping her mom around the house and spending time with Riley, who had the day off, Buffy wasn’t able to get to Spike’s crypt while he was likely to still be able to have a conversation.
“Come on, I’ll drive you home before I go to work,” Riley said.
“That’s okay. I have to go by Restfield to check on Spike, so I’ll just walk home from there.”
“What’s to check? This whole business of becoming a bat every night is pretty shaky if you ask me. I mean, okay, Dracula is a real vampire. I believe that because I saw it with my own eyes, but the idea that he can change into a bat, never mind that he could curse Spike into becoming one is pretty hard to swallow. I think it’s just some kind of scheme on Spike’s part. Not sure what his game is exactly, or how he got a tame bat to pretend to be him, but I don’t believe it’s possible.”
“You don’t believe me?” Buffy stared at him, mouth open. “I saw it, Riley. Twice now. And Giles saw it last night. One minute, it’s Spike, and then, poof! Nothing but a pile of Spike clothes and a teeny little bat.”
Riley looked up at the sinking sun. “Fine. I’ll just go with you to watch this amazing transformation. I’m sure I’ll notice something you’ve missed. Some kind of sleight-of-hand on his part that makes it look like he turned into a bat when he really just hid somewhere.”
Buffy shook her head, but gave up, muttering, “You’ve seen what Willow can do, you’ve been in Sunnydale for over a year, you know what my life is like… I don’t know why you’re so confused about this.” She didn’t speak again as Riley drove them to Restfield. When he pulled up near Spike’s crypt, she said, “Wait here,” and jumped out without explanation.
She was grateful she had, as upon opening the door, she found a naked vampire staring at her in surprise. Buffy threw a glance over her shoulder to see that the sun wasn’t quite down yet, and that Riley had disobeyed and was striding toward them.
“Bat! Now!” she said frantically. She was happily surprised to find that, by the time Riley pushed into the crypt, there was no sign of Spike, and a small bat was on the floor. She gave a sigh of relief, and knelt to scoop up the bat and place him near his cage. She could feel the rumbling growls coming from his little body and whispered, “I’m sorry. I tried to keep him out.” Bat-Spike didn’t reply, but stopped growling and curled up in his nest. She was happy to see that the broken wing seemed much better, although obviously not strong enough for Spike to fly.
“Where is he?” Riley demanded, ignoring the small mammal glaring at him and searching the room for Spike the vampire.
“He’s right here, Riley. He changed just as you came in the door. See, there are his clothes.”
She gestured toward Spike’s jeans, which were some distance away from where he’d actually been standing when she came in, but Riley wouldn’t be able to know that. Especially since he refused to believe that Bat-Spike was actually Spike.
“That’s a bat, Buffy,” Riley explained as if to a child. “It’s cute, I suppose, and if you want to keep it, I won’t object to it.”
There was high-pitched sputtering from the cage, which almost drowned out Buffy’s own fairly high-pitched, “You won’t what it?”
“I won’t object to your keeping it as a pet. Although, I think you should take it home with you if your mother doesn’t mind. There’s no reason for you to keep coming here every night to pick it up. I’m sure it would be fine in your basement while you’re gone during the day.”
He looked around again, frowning when he could see no sign of Spike.
“Does Spike have a back door?” he asked, peering all around the crypt. Buffy deliberately kept her eyes away from the rumpled rug covering the trap door to the downstairs. “He must have a way to disappear when he knows you’re coming here to get the bat.”
“I’m sure he does,” Buffy said. “It’s called changing into a bat!” She walked to the door and held it open. “I think you should go now, Riley. Spike and I are going to meet with Giles and Willow and Tara to see if they’ve come up with a way to break the curse. But since you don’t believe there is one, you obviously won’t want to waste your time there with us.”
He frowned at her curt dismissal, but shrugged and walked out. “I have to work tonight anyway,” he said. “I’ll see you tomorrow and we’ll talk about this.”
“Not if I see you first,” she muttered as she slammed the interior door. She could hear bat laughter sounds from Spike and turned to glare at him, then shook her head. “I don’t know how you did it, but I’m really glad you were able to change before he saw I was walking in on you naked.”
Spike emerged from his box and shook himself. He squeaked at her and held out his wings, displaying his fur-covered body. She frowned at him, then understanding dawned and she rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, yeah, you’re still naked. But now you have fur, and you’re tiny and cute. Riley wouldn’t have thought there was anything cute about a naked grown man—er, vampire—that I was willing to walk in on.” She looked at him more carefully. “Hey, you almost can hold the broken wing up. Is it all healed?”
He shook his head, allowing the damaged wing to droop again. Buffy held out her hand and he stepped onto it so she could bring him to her shoulder. He immediately cuddled up next to her neck and began to make little contented sounds.
She stroked his back with a finger, saying, “It’s probably a good thing he hasn’t seen this either. I don’t think he’d get that it’s okay for me to cuddle a bat that he thinks I think is you. Definitely wouldn’t think that was acceptable behavior on my part. Jackass!” she added, under her breath.
She felt him huff a tiny snort of laughter. “You weren’t supposed to hear that!” she said, then laughed at herself. “Which, was pretty stupid, considering the bat ears are right here.” He nodded against her chin, something she was finding herself looking forward to.
“So, did you change because I screamed at you, or did it just happen because it was so close to sunset?”
He didn’t answer her except to nudge the side of her neck, and she sighed. “Right, yes or no questions. Sorry! Did you change on your own?”
“You did? OMG. You can control it now?” She almost knocked him off in her excitement.
He shook his head ‘no’, growling his frustration at not being able to explain.
“Have you been trying?” A quick nod was his only response.
“Could you try again now? I mean, not while you’re sitting on my shoulder, because… yeah naked full grown man on my shoulder just wouldn’t be a good look for me. But, if I put you down, can you try again?”
He nudged her again, and pointed to the door with his good wing. Buffy frowned and stared at the door, then remembered that it should be dark out there by now.
“Oh yeah. It’s nighttime, so you have to be a bat. Well that sucks. I thought you’d learned how to be a bat and could learn how to go back to yourself. I still think that would be pretty cool—you know, if you could be a bat when you come with me, and then if I need help, poof! there’s a big mean vampire backing me up.”
He nuzzled her neck and nodded his agreement, making the little squeak that she now knew meant ‘sorry’. But he sighed and shook his head ‘no’ when she plucked him off and set him on the table, asking him to try it. He pantomimed falling asleep, doing it several times before she figured it out he was saying he was too tired.
“Oh. Okay. I guess it must be hard work trying to change back and forth. I’m just glad it worked tonight. If Riley had actually seen that, he’d probably try to swat you.” She stroked his back and said softly, “I don’t think I’d like that. I’d miss you.” He purred and snuggled into her hand. “I guess you’re too tired to come with me tonight? I was planning to leave some of your clothes—at least a pair of jeans—any place you might end up waking up naked.” She peered around, seeing that there were some jeans and tee shirts beside a bag on the couch.
“Are those the extras?” She didn’t even wait for his nod, just scooped them into the bag and picked it up. “Okay, I’ll take these with me and—” She was interrupted by irate squeaking and chirping. “What? I thought you were too tired to come with me tonight.” Frantic headshaking and increased squeaking indicated his lack of interest in being left in his crypt and she sighed.
“Fine. You can come. But I can’t promise I’ll bring you home. You might end up having to stay with me… I mean at my mom’s! In the basement!” She picked him up and glanced at the cage she’d used yesterday. “Can you hang on well enough now to ride on me? On my shoulder!” Her face flushed with having to correct herself twice, she glared at his obvious enjoyment of her accidental double entendres. “Shut up!”
Still giving little chirpy chuckles, he pulled himself up her sleeve and settled into his place near her neck.
“Bats shouldn’t have such dirty minds,” she muttered as she walked out, swinging the bag of clothes. She shut both doors behind her.
By a few weeks later, they had settled into a routine, one that sometimes required Spike to use the clothes Buffy had left for him at her house.
Usually, she picked him up for patrol, dusted any vamps that crossed her path, then took him back to his crypt or somewhere he had clothes stashed, before she went anywhere he wouldn’t be welcomed. Which often turned out to be on a date with Riley….
“You’re not planning to bring that damn bat with you again, are you?” Riley grumbled as the Scooby meeting was breaking up. “I want to go someplace decent for a meal.”
“Um… I hadn’t really thought about it. I didn’t know we were going out tonight, or I’d have left him with Mom and Dawn.”
“He can stay with me,” Giles said. “I have some translating to do tomorrow, and Spike’s help will be quite useful.”
Riley gaped at him. “Don’t tell me you think this is Spike, too? Or do bats have some hidden talents I don’t know about?”
Everyone looked at Buffy, eyes wide as they realized that Riley really didn’t know it was Spike hanging from a bookshelf and glaring at him. Buffy’s subtle head shake was enough to prevent any arguments or testaments to having seen the change from anyone still there, and she breathed a sigh of relief. By this time, Riley was so used to seeing her with the bat, even petting it from time to time, that she’d gone from being angry that he didn’t believe her, to hoping he never found out.
Giles finessed the answer surprisingly well, saying with a shrug, “I simply meant that I would be seeing Spike tomorrow, and as he is the bat’s other guardian when Buffy isn’t available, he can pick it up from me and take it home.”
Buffy didn’t bother to mention that ‘home’ for Bat-Spike had sometimes become her mother’s house. In spite of having had some issues with Dawn’s reaction to him as a bat. After Buffy noticed how uncomfortable Bat-Spike was when Dawn tried to cuddle him the way Buffy did, and Joyce caught her trying to open the basement door after she’d been told in no uncertain terms not to go down there when Spike might be sleeping, he had stopped spending the night there as often unless both Buffy and Joyce were going to be there.
He now had not only extra clothing and blood there, but an old extra pair of boots for use if he needed to take himself back to his crypt before he was a bat again. Both he and Buffy had long-since recovered from their injuries, so he was able to fly home after dark if he needed or wanted to.
“That sounds like a plan,” Buffy agreed quickly. She ignored the high-pitched muttering coming from the bat now hanging onto the back of the couch. “Let’s go, Riley. Giles will take care of Spike for me.”
While she no longer worried about Bat-Spike’s safety, she found she was just as willing as he was to pretend that there were good reasons for him to accompany her on patrol. Which proved true the night Buffy was jumped by several demons when, contrary to Giles’s advice, she was armed only with her stake. Spike had tried to warn her of a hidden danger, but the demons struck before she could see what it was or get away, and she was hard put to defend herself. When a swipe of a large paw knocked her to the ground, the bat’s high-pitched snarl suddenly became the more guttural and dangerous sounding snarl of a master vampire. The demons found themselves facing, not just an angry slayer, but a furious naked vampire clearly bent on destroying them. He’d already ripped the head off one demon before they’d even realized the fight dynamics had changed.
With only one demon left to face, Buffy put her stake in her waistband and used her fists and feet to show him what a bad idea it had been to ambush her. She left his body on the ground and turned to watch Spike take his time beating up the remaining demon. She could hear bits and pieces of the things he was snarling, but decided she was better off not hearing most of it. Things like “Try to kill my girl… no one touches the slayer when I’m around…” and other, more disturbing and at the same time, oddly warming, things.
When Spike finally realized he was beating a very dead demon, he stopped and shuddered all over before dropping to the ground with an angry squeal. Buffy rushed to pick him up, holding him carefully as he continued to tremble.
“Are you all right? How did you do that?”
He lay in her hands, breathing heavily and shivering, before rolling over and lifting his head. He nodded that he was okay, but gave a recognizable shrug when she repeated her question. After a few moments of rest, he shook himself and flew back to her shoulder, sitting there as if nothing had happened.
“That was amazing. And thank you,” she added. She assumed his chirp and nudge were bat for “you’re welcome”. “Wait till we tell Giles you’re learning to control it. He’ll be so excited!”
He twitched against her neck and made a small squeak of inquiry. Pleased with how well she was beginning to read him, Buffy responded to what she thought he’d said.
“Okay, yes. Telling him you were naked probably shouldn’t be included.” She sighed. “I don’t know why everybody is making such a big deal out of this. It’s not like I’ve never seen a naked man before—” There was a tiny growl then, and she sighed in exasperation. “Well, I have, Spike. As you know perfectly well. So, yes, as Anya might say, you are nice to look at, but it’s not like you have anything I haven’t seen before.” He gave another small growl and she rolled her eyes. “Oh my god, you do know I try not to be looking there, don’t you? I’m not playing any whose-is-bigger games for you, so just stop it.”
Ignoring the high-pitched muttering coming from her shoulder, she left the area they’d been patrolling and headed for Giles’s apartment complex. Her own muttering about testosterone poisoning and male animals just barely drowned out his complaints.
She frowned when they got to Giles’s apartment complex and there was a black SUV parked near the apartment.
“Huh? Is that Riley’s? I wonder what he’s doing here. I didn’t think he and Giles liked each other that much.” She thought hard for a few seconds, then sighed. “Just in case… why don’t you hang out in a tree or something until I find out what’s going on? If it’s safe to come in, I’ll come out and get you.”
The indignant reply didn’t require knowing how to speak bat, but Buffy interrupted him anyway. “Look, I know you’re all big and bad, but you’re also chipped when you’re a vamp, and you’re tiny and fragile now. I don’t want you to get hurt, okay? Just do this for me… please?”
He continued grumbling, but snuggled up to her neck, nodding his head and nuzzling her. Buffy reached up and stroked his soft fur until he stopped muttering and was purring softly against her skin, licking her delicately with his tiny tongue.
“I just want you to be safe, okay?”
With a teeny sigh, he nodded once more, then, leaving what felt like a bat-size kiss on her neck, he took off and disappeared into a leafy tree. Buffy made note of which tree it was, then knocked on the apartment door before opening it and entering. She gave Riley a questioning look before turning to Giles. “I have something cool to tell you, but I guess it can wait.” Turning back to Riley, she was already asking “What’s up, Riley? Do you need me for something?”
As she finished speaking, she noticed the net he was trying to hide behind his back and she gaped at him before asking Giles, “Is that what I think it is?” He gave a nod, his expression and eyes telling her to be careful what she said.
“Riley? Is that a net? What were you planning to catch with it?” She glared at him, foot tapping, looking much more like an angry slayer than a college co-ed.
“There’s been an outbreak of rabies in Sunnydale,” he blustered. “And bats are known carriers, so I’m just being proactive and taking one out of the picture. I know he’s your pet, but you can’t risk public health by protecting him.”
“Spike is never anywhere he could encounter rabies,” she said through gritted teeth. “He’s either with me, or one of my friends, or in his crypt with the doors closed.” She wasn’t even sure that a bat that was really a vampire could even get a disease of warm-blooded mammals.
“I’m sure that crypt isn’t safe, and Spike—the real Spike—isn’t likely to worry about exposing the bat to rabies, so you really don’t know if he’s safe or not. And if the bat isn’t there, you don’t have any reason to be going there every night.”
“So, the real reason is, you’re what? Jealous of a small furry animal?” She bit off saying he was jealous of Spike, knowing that might lead to badness. “If you don’t like my pet, then just let me know when you’ll be around, and I’ll make sure to leave him with somebody who will keep him safe for me.”
“Buffy, you need to be reasonable about this. I think I’ve been more than tolerant of the amount of time and attention that bat gets. I told you I wouldn’t object to you keeping him, but I’ve changed my mind. Since he’s tame, maybe the animal shelter or the zoo would take him. Either way, you need to get rid of him. I’m tired of sharing you with…”
He waved his arms around. “With just about everything, if I’m honest,” he said finally. “Your mom, your sister, your friends, your ‘slaying’.” He made air quotes around slaying, and Buffy wasn’t sure she hadn’t heard Giles growl. “And now, this stupid pet bat that you named after the vampire you refuse to slay. Everything else in the world is more important to you than I am.” He finished, standing firmly with his arms crossed while Buffy blinked in shocked comprehension.
“You think you should come before my family?” she asked in a register that almost rivaled Spike’s better squeaks. She took a deep breath and went on in a lower tone, “And, just as a reminder, a slayer’s job description includes saving the world from time to time. The whole world, not just the parts you approve of. And I do it when I have to, not when it’s convenient for you to do without me.”
She sighed and added, her voice much more gentle, “Riley, I don’t think we’re working out as well as we hoped we would. Being in a slayer’s life in any way, as a boyfriend or a friend, or even a relative, just isn’t the same as it is for most people. And it’s not something everybody can do. Hence my very small circle of real friends.”
“Buffy, I gave you a simple choice—me or the bat—how does that turn into a make or break situation?” Riley seemed genuinely confused. “I didn’t say you had to give up your friends and family, just the bat that you, for some reason, share with the vampire you’d be ‘dating if you wanted someone with super powers’.”
“It sounded pretty much like an ‘or else’ message to me,” Buffy said, refusing to acknowledge his reference to her own words. “It sounded like an ultimatum.” Looking very slayerly for a moment, she narrowed her eyes and said, “I don’t like ultimatums.”
“It sounded like that to me also,” Giles put in. The look on his face said it was against his better judgement to step in to what was essentially a lovers’ quarrel, but Buffy smiled. She knew he’d never been a fan of Riley and his insistence on having a scientific answer for everything. Riley’d never ceased referring to Spike as a “hostile” and to demons as “subterrestrials”, and his presence at Scooby meetings had often put a damper on what they could discuss with him there without getting into arguments.
Riley stood up even straighter, as if his height and military bearing would give his words more weight. “I’m your boyfriend, Buffy. Asking you to choose between me and a pet is hardly an ultimatum.”
“What would you call it? What if I choose my pet, Riley? Do you have a plan B for that, or were you just sure I’d choose you over anything else?”
“I assumed you would want me more than a flea-infested, flying rodent, but clearly I was wrong,” he said stiffly. He marched toward the door, net in hand. “You can’t keep him safe forever,” he said. “Bats don’t live very long. You’ll be sorry.” He slammed the door behind him.
“Did that sound like a threat?”
Giles shrugged. “I believe Spike needs to be very careful for a while. At least while he’s in bat form. Perhaps you should find him and tell him so, since he isn’t with you tonight.”
“Oh, he’s here. I told him to wait in a tree. I’m sure he heard every word with those bat ears. I just hope he has enough sense to stay in the tree until Riley leaves.” She went to the window, a worried look on her face, and watched as Riley’s big vehicle peeled out of the parking lot. As soon as it was out of sight, she opened the door and looked at the tree she’d told Spike to stay in.
“Come on in, Spike,” she called, frowning when he didn’t immediately appear. Just as she was becoming concerned, he flapped his way down to her shoulder where he chirped at her for quite a while.
“I don’t know what all that means, but let’s get inside in case Riley comes back.” She stepped in and closed the door. “Did you hear him?” she asked. He nodded against her chin, then left her shoulder to hang on the curtain rod.
“I suspect you have an enemy, Spike,” Giles said. “And not just because he thinks you should have been staked last year. I think you’ll need to be quite cautious for some time. Particularly when you’re in bat form.”
“Why was Riley here, Giles? He knew I was going to be patrolling tonight, and he shouldn’t have expected to find me here.”
“I’m sure he wasn’t expecting it. He was hoping to enlist my assistance in ‘curing’ you of your affection for… erm… for Spike in bat form. It seemed wisest, given his current state of anger at him, not to belabor the truth of the matter. I suspect he would be even less understanding of any relationship you may have with Spike in his true form.”
“You have no idea,” Buffy said with a sigh. “Just because when I was trying to convince him to get that chip out of his heart before it killed him, I said something stupid about dating Spike if I wanted somebody with superpowers, he thinks that means I want to date Spike. He even offered to have an Army psychiatrist talk to me about my ‘thing for vampires’.”
Giles flicked his glance to Spike, but he was just hanging on the curtain rod, and then back to Buffy. He studied her face for a moment, but clearly decided not to comment upon the idea that she might have considered dating Spike. Instead, he tackled the subject at hand.
“So Spike may be in danger now even in his normal form. Assuming, of course, that all this bouncing back and forth between chipped vampire and unchipped bat hasn’t had any effect on his vulnerability. Perhaps we should check that out tomorrow.”
“Yeah, okay. I guess so. I’ll tell Spike to hit me or something and we’ll see if the chip’s still working.” Buffy frowned at the thought and glanced up to the curtain rod where Spike was being uncharacteristically quiet.
“And then you will have a very different, and perhaps even more difficult decision to make,” Giles said gently, sending an apologetic look at Spike.
“I’ll worry about that tomorrow.” Buffy’s tight lipped smile made it very clear the subject was closed.
“Quite. Well then, why did you two come here so early in the evening? Is something wrong?”
“Oh, no!” Buffy regained her animation. “We wanted to tell you—well, I wanted to tell you ‘cause Spike still can’t talk—that he’s making progress on controlling the change.” She told Giles about Spike almost being caught naked by Riley weeks ago, but being able to change when she shouted at him, and then she described the demon attack that she’d survived partly because when she was knocked down, Spike had been able to change into his fighting form and kill two of the demons.
“So, it’s kinda like what I said last week, except I was sort of kidding then about how cool it would be to have a secret weapon; but tonight he was a bat on my shoulder, and then when I needed him to not be a bat, he was Spike for long enough to kick demon butt. Then he was a bat again, but still, points for being able to do it in an emergency.”
“Indeed,” Giles said, sending Spike a speculative look. “And what sort of clothing was he wearing as he did all this demon-butt kicking?”
“Umm… well none, on account of bats don’t wear clothes. But there was nobody there to worry about it except the demons, and I don’t think they cared that the vampire that was beating them up wasn’t wearing clothes.”
“You were there also, were you not?”
Buffy blushed. “Well, yeah, but you know, I was kinda busy fighting, and he didn’t stay naked Spike very long.” She took a deep breath. “It was okay, Giles. I’m a big girl and Spike doesn’t seem to care if I see him naked, so we’re good. I’d rather have him naked and helping me, than get my butt kicked by big, stinky demons while he runs home for pants.”
Still silent, Spike glided down to sit on her shoulder, settling into his normal place next to her neck and nudging it gently.
“Excellent point,” Giles conceded, staring at Spike for any trace of a smirk, but the bat just blinked little blue eyes at him. “So, as of yet, he has only been able to hasten his change into a bat by a few moments, and change into his normal form at night only if he needs to fight. Do I have that correct?”
“Yep, pretty much that’s it. Both times it was an emergency of some sort. I asked him if he was able to do it when he’s by himself, but we haven’t had a chance to talk about it, so I don’t know.”
“I wonder if the common denominator is the urgency of the situation, or your presence there?” Giles gave Spike a speculative look, but only received another bland eye blink.
Buffy tried to smother her memory of the things she’d heard Spike saying while he beat on the demons and said, “Well, I mean me being there is what made them emergencies, isn’t it? Riley walking in on him naked wouldn’t have been that big a deal if I wasn’t with him. And it was me the demons were after tonight. I don’t think they would have paid any attention to a bat by itself.”
“So, if your safety is threatened, he can make the change. But he can’t do it on his own.”
“I don’t know that, Giles. I can’t talk to him yet. It could be just coincidence.” Mentally hoping she was right, she added, “I mean he’s always with me at night, most of the time. And in the daytime, I don’t even know if he could be a bat if he wanted to. I mean, yeah, he did it a few seconds before the sun went down, but maybe it wouldn’t have worked if it was noon. But then, at noon, he’d probably have his clothes on because he wouldn’t be expecting to be a bat in a few minutes, so he wouldn’t have taken his clothes off and it would have been okay if I walked in ‘cause Riley wouldn’t have any reason to be mad that I was seeing Spike naked, and….” She ran out of air and stopped. “And I’m just going to stop babbling now.” She sighed, and absently stroked Spike who was snuggled into her neck in what had become his normal position when they were together at night.
“You are babbling. What might be making you so nervous, if it isn’t seeing Spike naked on a regular basis? Or that I now know it happens fairly often?” He shot Spike another piercing look, but again, met only calm blue eyes blinking slowly.
“It’s not on a regular basis! Sheesh, Giles. So, it’s happened a couple of times, and this time it was at night, in a cemetery. So what? If it doesn’t bother Spike, it shouldn’t bother anybody else… except maybe my mom. I don’t think she was very happy to know Dawn was living in a house where there might be a naked man in the basement. I already warned them not to go downstairs without telling him they were coming if he’s staying at our house for some reason, but Dawn doesn’t always listen to me.”
“What are your plans for the rest of the evening then?”
Buffy frowned. “Well, we didn’t really get very far with the patrol. We came straight here after the demon fight. I guess I’ll hit a few more cemeteries, and then take Spike home. Or maybe home with me,” she added. “Just in case Riley’s going to do something really stupid.”
“Something you may need to be prepared for,” Giles said, more sympathetically than she would have expected. “Hiding him at your mother’s house is, at best, a temporary solution. I feel sure Spike isn’t going to be willing to give up his normal activities to hide indefinitely.”
Spike’s answering squeals confirmed Giles’s thoughts, and they both laughed at his indignant reaction of the idea of hiding from Riley.
“Well, right now, his normal activities are being a bat and patrolling with me every night, so he’ll just have to suck it up for a while. He’s got a TV in his crypt, and my mom lets him use her TV if he tapes Passions for her, so he’s got things to do in the daytime if he has to stay there.”
This is taking longer than expected, due to formatting issues, so I may or may not get the rest of it posted today. I have to stop now to go to work until later this evening. Will try to finish up tonight, but no promises.
Chapter 7 and 8 are here.
Originally posted at: https://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/737542.html