Cuddling With the Darkness – Chapters 9 and 10

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Chapters 4 – 6

Chapters 7 – 8

Chapters 9 and 10 behind the cut.

CHAPTER NINE

After Buffy had eaten something more substantial than toasted waffles, and Spike had drunk another of his rapidly-disappearing packets of pig blood, they settled onto the couch comfortably. Buffy was tucked under his arm and snuggled into his side in a reversal of their normal positions when he was a bat.

“We never did test out if your chip is still working,” she said, drawing little circles on his leg.

“Well, if it didn’t go off earlier, when we were, um… I mean when I….”

“When you bit me, you mean?”

“Noticed that, did you?” He sounded almost ashamed as he peered at her from the corners of his eyes.

“I did. I was just too busy having the biggest orgasm of my life to mention it at the time. But I knew you did it.” She paused, then added, “and I heard what you said.” She turned her head to meet his worried gaze. “If the chip really reads intent, like you say it does sometimes, then biting me while you tell me you love me probably wouldn’t set it off, would it?”

“Might not. I honestly don’t know, sweetheart. I certainly wasn’t trying to hurt you, or even thinking about hurting you just then, so I can’t tell you if it was a good test or not.”

“I guess we need to find out—just to keep Giles from joining the stake-Spike club.”

“Is that what you think he’ll want to do?”

“If he thinks you can bite or kill? Oh yeah. You can take the man out of the Council, but you can’t take the Council out of the man.”

“We probably shouldn’t let him know I bit you, then,” he said. “Probably wouldn’t go well… even if he does believe I wouldn’t harm you.”

“Given how he reacted to knowing I don’t mind seeing you naked, I don’t think he needs to know anything about what we did here today!”

“Gonna keep me a secret then, are you?” Spike’s face shut down in a way Buffy really didn’t like.

“Stop that!”

“Stop what?”

“Getting all defensive about this. All I’m saying is ‘Hey, Giles, I’m boinking Spike now. That’s okay, isn’t it?’ isn’t going to fly. We need to let Giles, and everybody else, including my mom, get used to seeing us together all the time. We can work our way up to telling people we’re a couple. I think we need to start with… I dunno, we’re friends? But we might be dating?”

“You’re right, love. I’m sorry. Still a bit gobsmacked and insecure about this.”

“After the day we just had?”

“Said I was sorry.” His lip came out in a pout, and Buffy bit it and growled, resulting in an end to conversation for several minutes.

“I’ll play it any way you ask me to,” Spike said when they came up for air. He shook his head. “You know it doesn’t matter how slow we take it, your ex is gonna go completely Carrot Top.”

Buffy sighed and stood up. “You’re probably right. He’ll be sure I’ve been planning this all along.” She gave him a quick look from the corner of her eye. “Both my exes are going to go nuts about it.”

Spike snorted. “True enough. But at least we know I can protect myself from Angelus. It’s the human ex that I might be hard put to defend myself from, even when I’m me and not a teeny little bat. Not that I wouldn’t try,” he added. “Won’t kill him, but I’m not plannin’ to roll over and be dust, either.”

“Do you think you could? Kill him, I mean, or even defend yourself? Do you know for sure you can’t?”

There was a long pause before he said, “Do I know it? No. But I already know I can defend myself as long as I don’t fight back. I can dodge a punch, or even block one. I just can’t retaliate. Unless the watcher’s worries about the chip not surviving the transformations has something to it.” He gave her a sad smile and stood up to stroke her cheek. “Not sure you heard him, but he thinks it’s a possibility, and seems like he thinks you wouldn’t take the news well.”

Buffy exhaled and moved away from him. With her back to him, she said, “I heard what he said, I just ignored it. I didn’t want to think about it. About what it would mean…. And now….” She whirled around. “What am I supposed to do now, Spike? Now that I… we… you…. What if I have to stake you?”

“Wouldn’t do that to you, love. Chip or no chip, I wouldn’t do anything you’d have to stake me for.”

“I’m the Slayer, Spike. You’re William the Bloody. No soul. No—”

“So, you’re sayin’ I’d be dust for just existing? Because I’m me? Never mind if I never give you a reason?” His expression went from disbelief to disappointment to something she didn’t want to think about, but she plowed on.

“Spike, the only reason I didn’t slay you last year was because of the chip. It makes you safe. You were trying to kill me! Even got yourself a cheater ring to do it.”

“That was last year! This is now, Buffy.” His tone of voice was almost pleading.

“Do you expect me to believe if you can kill again, I’m not going to have to slay you?”

“I’d like to think you’d give me the benefit of the doubt… but seems that’s out of the question.” He stared at her, his eyes blue chips of ice. “I’ll just get my stuff and go.”

“What go? Go where? Are we fighting about something that probably isn’t even a thing? You’re getting all mad about something that might never happen. As long as you have the chip, we don’t even have to talk about this. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” She stuck her lip out stubbornly and crossed her arms.

He stared back at her, then suddenly lashed out with his left hand and knocked her across the room and into a chair. She stared at him, eyes wide and frightened. He gazed back at her, sadness replacing the anger on his face, and with no trace of pain.

“We don’t have to talk about it right now, Slayer. But seems like we bloody well do have to deal with it. You’re going to have to decide what you want to do about me.”

He turned and went upstairs so quickly she had barely started after him when he was on his way down, a blanket, his boots and shirt in hand. Without speaking to her, he finished dressing, then stood up near the front door, preparing to throw the blanket over his head.

“I’ll be in my crypt when you make up your mind.”

She watched from the doorway as he used his speed to get to the manhole in front of the house. He yanked it open and dropped out of sight in one smooth motion, leaving the cover and the blanket lying in the street. Still numb from the way the day had gone from wonderful to terrible so rapidly, Buffy walked out and replaced the manhole cover, ignoring the astonished stares from drivers who saw her pick it up with one hand. She walked back to the house, dragging the blanket, and went back to her room to stare at the rumpled bed.

XXX

As soon as the sun set, Buffy left the house and headed for Restfield, still not sure what she wanted to do, or why, but knowing instinctively that she needed to talk to Spike again, and have it straight in her own mind what she intended to do before she talked to Giles or the Scoobies. The idea of staking him made her almost sick to her stomach, as did remembering the expression on his face when he’d realized she was considering it.

“It’s not like it would be a done deal,” she muttered as she approached his crypt. “If he can fight back, I don’t even know if I could stake him, even if I wanted to.” Which I don’t, she allowed herself to admit silently.

As she approached, she saw that the doors were both closed, and she frowned at this sign that Spike wasn’t planning to go out that night. Even though he knew she normally would be coming to get him, he usually left both doors ajar enough that he could slip out if he needed or wanted to while in bat form.

She opened the doors, peering around the inner one to say, “Spike? Are you here?”

“He’s not here now.” Riley’s voice startled her and she stared in his direction. He was seated in a chair facing the door, a battery-powered lantern on the table behind him. On the floor at his side was his net, containing a small black bat. It wasn’t moving, and she gave a little moan of fear as she ran to it. Ignoring Riley for the moment, she reached into the net, only to have the bat retreat from her hand and stare at her with frightened black eyes. It looked terrified, and remained in the back of the net, trembling.

“What the hell, Riley?” Buffy stood up and put her hands on her hips.

“I’m waiting for Spike to come home so I can show him that I’m on to his scheme, and that I’m taking away his excuse to spend time with you. You’ll get over the loss of your pet. It probably wouldn’t have lived very much longer anyway.”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “I don’t know where you got that wild bat, but it isn’t Spike. It’s not my ‘pet’ and I don’t care what you do to it.” She frowned in thought. “I take that back. It’s a harmless little creature and it’s scared to death. You need to let it go.” She reached for the net, surprised into momentary inertia when Riley reached for her arm.

“It isn’t going anywhere until Spike walks in that door.”

“This isn’t my Spike bat, Riley.”

“Of course it is. Why else would a bat that looks just like the one you named Spike be flying around in his crypt?”

“It doesn’t look just like him, but if you never paid any more attention than that, it explains a lot. Giles, or any one of the Scoobies could tell you the same thing. This isn’t my bat. And if he was flying around inside a dark, cave-like building, I’d guess it’s because he’s a, you know, bat!

While she was yelling at Riley, she was trying to see around the room, in case Bat-Spike was there. A glimpse of movement against a back wall showed her another bat, hanging from the roof. A gleam of a blue eye was all she needed to identify the real Spike, and she relaxed with a sigh.

Shaking off Riley’s hand, she picked up the net and carried it to the door. She opened it far enough for the bat to fly out. Which it did, immediately. Satisfied with having saved its life, she turned her attention back to Riley, who was on his feet and clearly furious with her.

“You let him go!”

“Uh, yeah. Which part of he’s a terrified and a harmless little animal was confusing you?”

“Well, if that’s not your bat, then what the hell are you doing here?”

My bat is still here. He’s just hiding from you. Which is apparently smart thinking on his part….”

“Bats don’t think,” Riley scoffed. “If he’s here, why hasn’t he landed on your shoulder yet?”

“Because he’s not stupid.” Buffy shot a quick glare at Spike in case he was about to do something that stupid, but he remained hanging where he blended in with the shadows.

“I think you should leave now, Riley. You have no business in Spike’s crypt. It is his home, you know.”

“And yet, for some reason Spike’s ‘home’ is where you leave your pet bat in the daytime. Would you like to explain that, Buffy? Do you just need an excuse to see Spike every day? Is that why he’s the bat sitter? He wasn’t even here earlier today. I checked several times. No Spike and no bat except the one you just let go.”

Buffy sighed and shook her head. “I can’t explain it, Riley. I tried to tell you weeks ago, but you don’t want to believe it. Almost under her breath, she muttered, “And now I should probably be grateful that you don’t.” Raising her voice again, she went on, “Spike wasn’t here earlier because he was safe from you somewhere else. And he’s hiding now, because you’re an even bigger danger to him now than you would have been in the daytime. And that’s all I’m going to say about it. Now get lost, so I can get my bat and start patrol.”

Riley narrowed his eyes at her as he picked up his net. “If that bat is here, I’m not leaving without it. I suppose you’re going to tell me that isn’t ‘your’ bat, either,” he said, pointing behind her.

Even as Spike flew down to land on the top of the couch behind her, tiny little growls coming from his throat, Buffy was saying, “Have you forgotten who you’re talking to? And yes, that is my Spike.”

“Yeah, yeah. You’re the Slayer and you’re stronger than I am… in theory. But you don’t hurt humans, so you can’t stop me from getting rid of Spike… either Spike.”

Making ‘stay there’ motions behind her back, Buffy said as calmly as she could manage, “The Slayer doesn’t slay humans, Riley. I’ve got no problem hurting them if they are trying to harm someone or something that I care about. Have you forgotten what happened to your squad when they jumped me last year?”

“I haven’t forgotten,” he said, dropping the net and pulling a taser from his pocket. “I hate to do this, Buffy, but you’re leaving me no choice. I think Dracula is responsible for this bat fascination. He probably left a thrall on you, and you’re explaining it by saying it’s a curse on Spike.”

Only Buffy’s slayer instincts saved her from being tased, although her shock at Riley’s attempt meant that he didn’t miss by much. Still standing between him and Spike, whose bat swearing had gone to ear-splitting range, she shook her head at him.

“Don’t make me hurt you, Riley,” she said, poised for a fight. “I think losing those enhancements that were killing you has affected your common sense. Just go home and get some sleep. Now. While you can.”

“I’m not leaving without the bat, and without staking Spike. Obviously he’s part of this curse or spell or whatever it is that is making you defend him. Once he’s gone, that should take care of it and you’ll be back to yourself again.”

“You want to stake Spike? I’m not going to let you do that, Riley. And I can’t even begin to tell you what a bad idea that is.”

“You can’t stop me. Once and for all, I’m going to get rid of—” Riley paled, his expression going from determination to shock to disbelief. “… Spike?”

“She won’t need to stop you.” Spike’s cold voice from behind her told her he was no longer a bat, and she sighed.

“Couldn’t let me handle it, could you?” she snapped at him.

Riley stared from her to the naked vampire Buffy obviously wasn’t surprised to find behind her.

“How… what…where? Why isn’t he dressed????”

“Bats don’t wear clothes, Riley.” Buffy waited to see if he was going to accept what his own eyes had seen. “Put on some pants, Spike,” she added over her shoulder.

Riley’s taser had dropped to his side as he visibly tried to process what he wanted to assure himself he hadn’t really seen. He stared around the room frantically. “Where’s the bat?”

“I’m right here, wanker,” Spike said, clearly not having obeyed Buffy’s command. At her glare, he sighed and turned to pick up his neatly folded clothes from the couch. He had just picked up his jeans when Riley shook himself out of his stupor and pushed Buffy away hard enough to make her lose her balance. He’d dropped the taser in favor of a stake, which was aimed at Spike’s bare back.

“Spike!” Buffy shrieked, twisting as she stumbled so as to remain on her feet.

“I’ve got it,” he said, whirling and grabbing the hand holding the stake. He was in full game face and grinned as Riley blanched. “Might be a mite harder than you think it will,” he said, not releasing the hand holding the stake. Since he hadn’t done anything more aggressive than to continue squeezing Riley’s hand to the point of pain, it was obvious that Riley wasn’t sure if he was safe or not.

“Let go of my hand, Spike,” Riley said firmly.

“Make me,” Spike said, still grinning and showing a lot of teeth, but otherwise wearing his human mien.

Buffy’s warning “Spike…” made him glance at her briefly.

“Not going to kill him, pet. But not going to stand here and let him kill me either.”

“Buffy! Something’s gone wrong with the chip! Do your duty!”

“Which duty would that be, Riley? The one that says I should slay harmless creatures? Or the one that says I should slay someone who is only trying to defend himself? I don’t remember either one of those being in the slayer handbook.”

“He threatened to kill me!”

“No, he said he wouldn’t kill you. He just isn’t going to stand still while you try to kill him. That seems fair to me.”

Riley’s hand had become so painful that he released the stake, which dropped to the floor. Spike immediately released him and stepped away, kicking the stake out of reach as he did. He continued facing Riley, but quickly pulled on his jeans and fastened them with one hand while the other grabbed his shirt.

Buffy got between them again, saying to Riley, “If you try to manhandle me like that again, I’ll break your arm. Is that clear?”

“That’s your pattern, isn’t it Buffy? I get into a fight with one of your vampires, and you threaten to hurt me. I see nothing’s changed. They’re more important to you than I am.”

“What’s he talking about?” Spike said. “The big poof can defend himself, and I bloody well know he would. Don’t tell me you had to come to his rescue?”

“I’ll tell you later,” Buffy said, moving closer to him. “They were fighting and it made me mad. I threatened to put both of them in the hospital.”

“Never pays to brass off the Slayer, soldier boy. Think you might have learned that by now.”

“Shut up, Spike!”

“Shut up, Spike!”

Buffy and Riley spoke simultaneously. Buffy turned her head to give him an apologetic smile. “Please?”

“Fine.” She didn’t need to be looking at him to picture his pout, but she didn’t want to take her eyes off Riley who was staring back and forth between them.

“Where did he come from? And why was he naked?”

“Riley, what do you think you saw?”

He didn’t answer, just shook his head in disbelief and began backing toward the door. When he bumped into it, he pulled it open without looking and left the building. They could hear the sound of his running footsteps.

“Do you think I should follow him?” Buffy said, frowning. “He left his stake and his taser here.”

“Up to you, love. I know you’ll blame yourself if something happens to him. You go on. I’ll just wait here.”

She frowned again. “Will you be okay?”

He shrugged. “I’ll be fine. Not sure if I’ll be me or a bat, but I’ll be here when you get back.”

She hesitated again, but he brushed his lips over hers. “Not leaving, love. Not until we’ve talked this out.”

With a nod, she ran out the door and quickly found Riley. He was facing down a fledgling vampire, but instead of using the stake she could see he had in a back pocket, he was punching the bewildered new vamp with all the anger he hadn’t been allowed to take out on Spike. Buffy admired his courage at first, but as he continued to beat the much smaller vampire long past the point he could have staked him, she began to fidget. When it became obvious he was inflicting the maximum amount of pain he could without actually dusting the vamp, she slipped past him and ran her stake through the small vampire’s back.

She looked at Riley to see if she was going to have to fight him, but he just stood there, breathing hard and seeming to be ashamed of himself. He straightened up and looked her in the eye. “You know I was pretending he was Spike, right?”

“I think I got that.” She grimaced. “But he wasn’t Spike.”

“He could have been. I can take Spike. Even if the chip isn’t working. I can take him.”

Buffy just shook her head and began to walk away. “No, Riley. You probably can’t. And not just because I’ll be watching his back.”

“Did you see what I did to that hostile?”

“I saw you beat up a much smaller vampire that had just crawled from his grave.” She paused to look back at him. “You do remember telling me how many men it took to put Spike in the cage when he woke up, don’t you?”

“They weren’t me. They weren’t even part of our regular vamp hunters. You can’t keep him safe forever, Buffy. I’m going to put him down just like I did this one.”

Buffy cringed at the expression normally used for dying animals, but simply said, “Spike isn’t a fledgling. He’s an old vampire.” As she walked away, she added, “You need to think about that and remember it.”

It occurred to her that the Initiative had been surprisingly ignorant about vampires in general, and even more so about old ones, and that he might well not know the difference between a newly risen one and one that had been around for well over a hundred years. Spike’s strength and speed had surprised his captors, but they’d chosen to think it just meant he was strong enough for a chip.

CHAPTER TEN

She returned to Spike’s crypt, carefully putting the bar across the inner door before even looking for him. When she saw his jeans and tee shirt in a heap on the floor she sighed. “So, you’re a bat again?”

An angry squeak was the only response.

“Wonderful. Now I don’t know what to do with you. I told Riley to leave you alone, but I don’t think he’s going to. He thinks he can beat you up like he did the just-out-of-his-grave kid he was pummeling when I caught up with him. I told him he couldn’t, but that might just mean he’ll bring out more vamp weapons.”

Spike’s angry squeals weren’t hard to translate into “I’d like to see him try,” and Buffy rolled her eyes.

“Well, if it’s all the same to you, I’d rather not see him try,” she said. “I’ve got to find a way to fix this.”

Spike flew to a shelf at eye level and cocked his head at her. She automatically put out her hand, biting her lip when he flinched back from it rather than curling around her fingers. She met his eyes and flushed, realizing he had yet to touch her.

“Okay. I know we can’t talk when you’re like this, but does that mean I can’t touch you?”

He gave a little bat shrug and hopped to her shoulder, but remained on the outer edge where she couldn’t feel his soft fur or normal caresses on her neck.

“Fine. You’re mad at me. Go ahead and be mad.” She stomped over to the couch and plopped down, not caring if he was jarred off her shoulder or not. “This is hard for me, Spike. I’m trying to think of some way to keep you in my life, without having to explain to my watcher that I trust you not to go on a killing spree. I’m thinking ‘because he loves me and rocked my world today’ isn’t going to work. “ She crossed her arms and settled back with a pout.

Spike clung to her jacket a little longer, then moved closer and nudged her neck making his “sorry” sound. Buffy waited a little longer, then stroked his back softly. “It’s going to be hard,” she said. “It’s hard for me, because every slayer instinct I have is screaming at me that you’re dangerous.” When he recoiled and growled, she sighed again. “I know it’s not true. At least as far as I’m concerned, and I guess Mom and Dawn, but we’ve got a whole bunch of other people to convince, and that’s going to be a lot harder….”

She turned her head to nuzzle him, turning the growl into a much happier sound. “I’m not going to give you up,” she said, kissing the top of his head. “I’m just trying to figure out what to do. You’ll have to give me some time.”

He made an agreeable sound and did his ‘okay’ nudge to her neck, before licking her and leaving little bat kisses.

“So, if we’re not fighting anymore, let’s go tell Giles about Riley and see if he has any ideas.”

Spike flew to the door and waited there, hanging by his feet from the bar. Buffy laughed as she lifted the bar and took it off. “You’re going to miss all this flying and hanging from things, aren’t you?”

Before she opened the door, she looked around the room and at the rumpled rug over the door to his bedroom. “I wonder if there’s some was to hide that, without making it look like we’re hiding something? Maybe just doing some furniture re-arranging? We need to work on that when we get back.”

XXX

Buffy chose to take the long way to Giles’s, both because it was a little early for her to have ended a patrol, and because she thought she ought to have something else to report other than she’d rushed to Spike’s crypt as soon as the sun went down. Four vampires and a smelly demon later, she felt justified in knocking on Giles’s door before walking in.

He glanced up from where he’d been reading at his desk, and smiled at her. “You’re alright,” he said, looking relieved.

“Did you expect me not to be?” Spike had left her shoulder for his normal place on the curtain rod.

“I’ve had a rather garbled and confused call from your, I’m assuming former, boyfriend to the effect that Spike had such a strong thrall he managed to include him in it, and to appear in front of him without warning and without clothing.” Giles shot a quick look at Bat-Spike, who just blinked at him. “He seemed quite certain you were in imminent danger and that I should go to your rescue prepared to stake Spike.”

“Wow. He didn’t waste any time, did he?” Buffy shook her head and sat in the big chair. “So, here’s the sitch….” Without going into detail about what they’d been doing all day at her empty house, or the fact that Spike’s chip was no longer working, Buffy managed to give a short summary of not only the probable change in their relationship, but Riley’s attempts to kill both Bat-Spike and vampire Spike. She also mentioned the fledgling that Riley had been essentially torturing until she put an end to it, and that he seemed to think he could and should do the same thing to Spike.

Giles sighed and pulled off his glasses to polish them vigorously while Buffy rolled her eyes and waited patiently for him to say something. To her shock, it was not what she expected to hear.

“I’ve been doing some research,” he began, “based, I will admit, on Riley’s insistence that you have an unusual attraction to vampires. As it turns out, such an attraction is not all that unheard of for slayers. Not that it’s common or expected!” he hastened to add. “But, it seems that as slayers age and gain more experience, they have been known to form relationships with older vampires. The Council, needless to say, is not fond of these relationships, but they are so rare as to not have a set protocol for them. They weren’t concerned about your relationship with Angel because, not only did he have a soul and was someone the Powers felt had potential as a champion, but you were too young to be forging a long-term relationship with him.”

He waited for her to stop muttering about the Council minding its own business, and for Spike to stop growling at the mention of Angel’s name before continuing.

“Even making allowances for Riley’s obvious jealousy and anger over your ending the relationship with him in favor of what he still insists was a pet, it is obvious that you and Spike do have an affinity for each other. Beginning with your truce to fight Angelus—a truce, I might add, you should have shared with me at the time—” he gave a glare at both Buffy and Spike. “—and your obvious romantic feelings last year when Willow only wished you marriage, not devotion, and the rather obvious relationship between you now, I’m assuming that this may be the beginning of one of those rare slayer/vampire relationships mentioned in the Council’s records.”

Buffy stared at Spike, who blinked back at her before floating down to her shoulder. “Does this mean it’s okay if he… I mean, if I… if we… it’s okay? I don’t have to fight anybody about it?”

Giles sighed. “I believe ‘okay’ may be a bit too strong, but it is not unheard of, and may or may not be sanctioned by the Council.” He gave Spike a hard glare. “The fact that Spike’s chip means he’s harmless is definitely a factor in your favor. However, Riley seems to be under the impression the chip is no longer functional—although given he cannot seem to make up his mind whether he knows that for a fact because Spike did, indeed, cause him pain without any obvious consequences, or that it was all part of the over-all thrall that’s making him appear to be a bat.” He waited for clarification, frowning when Buffy’s face fell and she fumbled for what to say.

“He’s right. Spike did stop Riley from staking him by squeezing his hand to make him drop the stake. But it was really self-defense, and Spike already knew he could protect himself as long as he didn’t try to hurt anybody. So, maybe….”

“Maybe you’re reaching for straws because you know he’s free to kill again?” Giles asked dryly.

“Maybe?” Buffy put her hand on Spike, who had snuggled up against her neck.

“And you’re comfortable with that?” Giles didn’t allow her to look away from his piercing gaze.

“I trust him,” she said. “If he promises not to kill anybody, and to keep buying his blood from the butcher, I trust him. Spike doesn’t lie to me.”

Giles sighed and shook his head. “I’m not sure that after dealing with Angelus, anyone is going to be willing to trust your judgement on this issue. You may have a hard time convincing anyone—including me,” he added, in case she hadn’t noticed his lack of enthusiasm.

Spike nuzzled Buffy’s neck, leaving a little bat kiss, then flew out of the room and upstairs. He was back within a few seconds, in his normal form and wearing what was apparently Giles’s bathrobe. Ignoring the incongruity of appearing in loungewear that was too big for him, he walked up to Giles and met his eyes firmly.

“The Slayer knows me better than anyone else in this town, and if she trusts me, you should trust her.”

“Buffy’s judgement has been skewed in the past by allowing her emotions to get in the way.”

Spike growled. “Not him. Not like him, never was, and never will be. And Buffy’s a grown woman, not a starry-eyed teenager with terrible taste in men. She’s an amazing slayer, and even more amazing woman, and I would never do anything to break her trust or give her reason to want to dust me.”

“So, you’re saying developing a relationship with Buffy is all it takes to turn you into a pussycat?” Giles scoffed, but waited for a response.

“I’m not saying that. I’m saying if she lets me into her life, I’ll never do anything to make her change her mind about it, or be sorry that she did it. And I’ll do my best to have her back and see to it that she is the longest-lived slayer ever. That’s all I’m promising.” He glanced at Buffy, then back Giles, saying firmly, “I am the demon I am, and there may be times when that’s just what she needs to have on her side.”

He finished speaking just in time to mutter, “Fuck!” before the robe collapsed to the floor and an angry bat crawled out from under it. Giles picked up his robe and draped it over a chair as he watched Bat-Spike fly back to Buffy’s shoulder.

“It seems he is learning to control this,” he observed, watching Spike intently. Buffy nodded.

“I think he’s getting there. That’s twice tonight, but he can’t stay himself for very long.”

“And threats to you are, again, what allows him to change.”

“You weren’t threatening me!” Buffy glared at Giles, remembering that he had been discussing Spike’s lack of a chip’s restraint in a less than positive fashion. “Not exactly….”

“The question remains, vampire or bat, you are trusting a very dangerous vampire to control his demon for no better reason than his desire to remain in a relationship with you.”

“I think that’s a damn good reason,” Buffy muttered, as Spike snuggled into her neck.

“And that may turn out to be the case,” Giles said with a sigh. “But I strongly suggest that you keep both your non-bat relationship and Spike’s lack of restraint as much of a secret as is possible. I‘m quite sure I am not the Council’s only source of information in Sunnydale.” He gave Spike a hard glare. “Obviously, that secrecy will preclude any public displays of affection, as well as any conflicts with humans that don’t result in painful headaches for Spike.”

“I already knew we would have to get everybody used to the idea we don’t hate each other before we could move on to… to anything else. I mean everybody knows he’s with me all the time when he’s a bat, so it shouldn’t be too hard to kinda ease our way into being friends. Really close friends,” Buffy added, stroking Spike’s back.

“I don’t want to know,” Giles groaned, pouring himself a stiff drink.

“Okay, Giles. It’ll just be our little secret. Just the three of us… or maybe five of us. Mom and Dawn would never forgive me, but they both like Spike, so they’ll probably be fine with it.”

“The more people who know, the more difficult it will be to keep it a secret. I will do what I can to prepare the Council for eventual knowledge, but it will take time. Time in which Spike can be proving himself as a member of your normal companions and occasional helpers.”

Spike nudged her neck again, then nodded his agreement. Frustrated that she couldn’t talk to him about it while he was a bat, Buffy huffed her acceptance of the situation.

“Now all I have to worry about is Riley. He said something the other day about being asked to go demon-hunting in South America. Maybe he’ll do that, now that he knows we’re broken up and there’s nothing for him here.”

“It would be the best of solutions. Perhaps you can encourage that idea in some way?”

“I don’t really want to talk to him if I don’t have to, but if I get a chance, I will. And if he comes whining to you again about Spike, maybe you can say something encouraging about leaving Sunnydale.”

“I suppose that is the limit to what we can actually do to influence him. That, and to hope that as his jealousy wanes, so will his need to punish Spike.”

There was a tiny scoffing noise from Spike, and Buffy shook her head as she walked to the door.

“It needs to wane pretty fast, I can’t be with him 24/7.”

Spike’s angry squeaking made her stop and snap at him. “Okay, okay, yes, you’re a big bad vampire and you can kick his ass. The point is, we don’t want him to know that for a fact. The longer he thinks you’re still chipped, the safer you’ll be, and right now all he knows is that you can stop him from staking you. He doesn’t know for sure that you can fight back.” Buffy remembered the things she’d said to Riley about Spike not being a fledgling, and frowned. “At least I hope he doesn’t.”

“Perhaps,” Giles said, “a public exhibition of how the chip is still at work might be in order? If we can arrange something where Spike appears to attack someone, then is incapacitated by the chip….?”

“That’s a thought, I guess. He could just start a fight somewhere public and then pretend the chip fired when he threw the first punch.” She frowned and glanced at Bat-Spike, who was looking much too pleased about starting a fight. “It’s going to have to be somebody we know won’t really beat you up,” she said. “Or else somebody will have to be there to save you….”

Spike nudged her with his nose, and squeaked a question.

“Well, yeah, obviously I could do it, but it would be better if I wasn’t around to do it. It has to look like you needed to be saved, so Riley… and the Council! can see that you can’t harm humans and I don’t need to stake you. Maybe Xander….”

Giles and Bat-Spike gave matching scoffs of disbelief, although Spike’s tiny scoffing noise sounded more like a sneeze.

“Okay, fine. Maybe not Xander…. We’ll find somebody. If worse comes to worst, we’ll do it when I’m around. But I think Xander might surprise you.”

The last chapter is here.

Originally posted at: https://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/738175.html

slaymesoftly

slaymesoftly