Title: Cuddling With the Darkness
Era/season/setting: early season five
Rating: Strong R
Special thanks to all4spike, who, in spite of being physically unable to do her usual detail-oriented beta job, was kind enough to read through it to keep me from digging plot holes or leaving out anything important.
Summary/notes: Sparked by the below meme and a subsequent short discussion on EF’s FB page. What if Dracula turned Spike into a bat?
“Can he really turn into a bat?”
Buffy glanced at Spike from the corners of her eyes. She’d gone to make sure Dracula had actually left Sunnydale, only to find Spike lingering in a shaded corner of the old dog pound. She joined him, sitting on the other end of table he was perched upon, and waited for him to answer her question.
“Who? Old Drac? I reckon he can. He’s full of those old gypsy tricks.”
“So, he might still be here? Just not all Euro-trashy looking?” Buffy stared around, concentrating on the roof line.
“Doubt it, Slayer.” He shook his head. “How many times did you stake him?”
“Two or three? I just waited and watched the dust try to pull itself together the third time and reminded him I hadn’t left yet. When it fell back to the floor, I kicked it all over the place, but I dunno if that was enough.”
“Probably wasn’t enough to really take him out of the world permanent-like, but don’t doubt it was more than enough for him to change his mind about addin’ you to his harem.” He cocked his head at her. “Do you think that’s what he had in mind?”
Buffy shrugged. “I guess so. He said all kinds of ooky stuff about how I’m like him. How crazy is that?”
Spike visibly started to speak, then stopped and shook his head. He blew out a breath, then said, “Completely daft. Everyone knows Slayers are Heaven’s Chosen Ones. No idea what he was thinking. Probably getting senile in his old age.”
Buffy studied his face, easily seen even in the heavy shade, and narrowed her eyes. “Why do I think that’s not really what you started to say?” When he just smirked at her, she added, “And what are you doing here? Why are you sitting here while the sun is still out?” Buffy pointed ahead of them to where the sun was still not quite below the horizon. “Shouldn’t you still be in your crypt at this time of the day?”
“Was hoping you’d come by to check on things,” he mumbled, not meeting her puzzled gaze.
“You were hoping I’d come? Why? Why not just wait for tonight and find me then? It’s almost sunset now.”
“Well… see… thing is… I may have had a bit of dust-up with Drac over that money he owes me—”
“You fought with Dracula? Over money?”
“Hey! Eleven pounds, even without interest, that comes to a right healthy sum in today’s money!” He shuffled his feet and looked away again. “Anyway, point is, I might need a little… assistance… when the sun goes down.” He still wasn’t looking at her, just studying the toes of his boots.
“Assistance? From me?” She rolled her eyes, but curiosity got the better of her. “Assistance with what?”
“Dunno, do I?” He sighed. “Slimy Romanian bastard put a curse on me. Said I’d become some sort of animal, and told me I’d find out what it was after the sun went down.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Well, isn’t that wonderful? What am I supposed to do with you? What if you turn into a… a dragon or something?”
“Pretty sure he didn’t wish me into anything big enough or dangerous enough to hurt him. That’s why I need you,” he almost whispered, still refusing to look at her.
He looked up at her then. “You protect the vulnerable, don’t you? Wouldn’t stake me once I wasn’t killing, wouldn’t let your boy toy’s friends take me back. You’ll take care of me if I can’t do it myself.”
Buffy frowned, meeting his eyes and reading there the trust he had in her. She blinked and looked away. “It’s almost sunset…. What if you turn into a… a frog or something icky like that?”
“If I do, just carry me to the nearest pond,” he snorted. “But I doubt frogs are Drac’s style. More’n likely it’ll be a—”
His voice cut off and she turned around just in time to see Spike vanish. In his place, sitting on his leather coat and peering out from under his tee shirt, was a very small black bat.
“Sp…Spike? Is that you? Are you a bat?”
Although the bat looked perfectly normal in every way, on close inspection, its eyes were the same shade of blue as were Spike’s. Putting aside the disturbing fact that she was familiar enough with Spike’s eyes to recognize the color, Buffy reached a finger toward the little creature and poked it gently. It gave a high-pitched squeak and wrapped itself around her finger, clinging tightly with its flexible wings and peering up at her.
“You’re so soft!” Buffy cooed, lifting him closer to her face. “And so cute!”
The creature curled around her hand gave what might have been a very high-pitched, tiny growl and raised its head to glare at her.
Buffy giggled. “Sorry, Big Bad, but you are adorably cute! I can’t wait to show everybody.”
More frantic squeaking and snarling followed, but Buffy cupped him in her hands so he couldn’t fly away and walked off briskly, giggling at his temper tantrum. At the last second, she remembered his clothes and went back for them, causing the squeaking and snarling to taper off. She stared at his boots, then shrugged and said, “Maybe I can get them later. It’s not like anybody’s going to steal your ratty old boots.” That brought on another high-pitched complaint, and it briefly occurred to her that bats can bite. Since he didn’t seem to be inclined to use his tiny little fangs, she assumed the chip must still be working on Bat-Spike. With his jeans, shirt, and coat hanging over one arm, she began marching towards the Magic Box, cradling the soft little animal in her other hand.
When all the girls had oohed and aahed over Bat-Spike, Giles had taken notes on the fact that Dracula was not only real, but could turn other vampires into bats, and Xander had retreated to the table to pout over all the attention the little bat was getting, Giles called them to order to discuss the coming year and remind them that vampire activity would be picking up now that summer was over.
“Aside from turning Spike into a bat, do we have any idea if Dracula is actually gone for good? Could he still be here, just in another place?”
Buffy shook her head. “Spike doesn’t think so. He said Dracula probably decided I was too disobedient to be a good addition to his harem. He just did that to Spike because he owes him money.”
While she spoke, she was absently stroking the soft fur on Spike’s back, not noticing that his squeaky growls had turned into a soft purring sound that vibrated under her fingers.
“So, Buffster, what are you going to do with him? I don’t think bats make good pets.” Xander had emerged from his pout long enough to see how comfortable Buffy seemed to be with having a wild animal in her hand. He glared at the little bat, which managed to glare back at him without missing a beat with his purring.
“Well, I don’t know. I mean… what do bats even eat? They don’t really drink blood, do they?”
Willow spoke up. “Only vampire bats drink blood, from cows and other animals. This isn’t a vampire bat. He probably eats insects, like mosquitos and other night time flying insects.”
“Oh. Maybe I should let him go? He won’t find any insects to eat in here.”
Spike cuddled into her hands, clinging to her thumb and shaking his head no.
“No? You don’t want to go catch something to eat?” Buffy narrowed her eyes at him. “I’m not catching bugs for you,” she said, shaking her head for emphasis. “You’re on your own there, batboy.”
“Maybe… since he isn’t really a bat… I mean, he is a bat, obviously, but he wasn’t before… maybe he can drink blood?” Willow seemed quite pleased with herself, and Bat-Spike waved a wing at her, nodding against Buffy’s fingers.
“That makes sense. Okay, I’ll just take him to his crypt on my way home and he can drink whatever blood he’s got there.”
“Buffy?” Xander was clearly trying to be very patient. “He can fly, can’t he? Why doesn’t he just take himself home?”
He settled back with a satisfied grin, that faded as all the girls began insisting that they couldn’t let something that small and cute out into the night by itself.
“Something might eat him, Xander!” Anya said. “He’s too small to fight back. An owl might get him. Or a cat….”
“Besides, he can’t open the doors the way he is. I’ll have to at least let him in.” Buffy spoke firmly. “Anyway, I haven’t patrolled yet, so if we’re done here, I’m going to take Spike home and stake a few vampires on the way.” She picked up his coat, into which she’d stuffed his tee shirt and jeans, and put it over her arm.
She walked out, coat on one arm, as Spike used his little claws to climb up the other arm of her sweater to her shoulder. He settled himself there, peering around as they approached Restfield. Suddenly, he left her shoulder and began to flutter around clumsily until he seemed to figure out what he was doing and shot up into the air. She watched as he practiced his new skill, eventually doing barrel rolls and loops, pretending to divebomb her from time to time.
Buffy laughed at him for awhile, then shrugged and began walking again. “Let’s go, flyboy, I want to get home sometime tonight.”
He dove toward her, banking at the last minute and settling onto her shoulder again.
“This could be a pretty cool accessory for a vampire slayer,” Buffy mused. “Not every girl has a bat on her shoulder.”
He squeaked his agreement, and nuzzled her ear with his tiny nose.
“Eek!” Buffy twitched at the sensation, then laughed at herself. “That wasn’t funny, Spike,” she said, in spite of her own amusement. “How am I going to scare vampires if I scream when a little bat touches me?”
He left her shoulder again, darting around in the light of a street lamp at the entrance to the cemetery. He flew around the light for several minutes, then came back to Buffy.
“Were you eating bugs?” she said. “You better not be eating them on my shoulder!”
His reply was to hop to the top of her head and begin nudging around her hair with his nose.
“Stop that! Get out of my hair! This is why people don’t like bats. They get into your hair! Stop it!”
Spike stopped his rooting around on her scalp and stroked his wing tips carefully through her hair in an attempt to comb it down. Buffy reached up and grabbed him, careful not to squeeze with her full strength.
“That’s enough. I’ll fix it myself when I get home,” she grumbled at him. “What the hell were you thinking?”
She held him up in front her face, the better to glare at him, blinking rapidly when his tiny tongue darted out to lick her nose apologetically. She moved her hand farther away and shook her head.
“Do you think you’re a puppy? You’re a bat, Spike. You don’t lick people.”
He just gazed back at her with his cute little blue bat eyes.
“C’mon,” she sighed. “Let’s get you home and see if you have anything to eat there.”
The walk to Spike’s crypt took a little while, as Buffy had to drop his clothes and stake three vampires. Two were clearly just out of the ground, and one, somewhat older-looking one, seemed to be shepherding them out of the cemetery.
“Slayer!” he said, with an unmanly shriek that made Buffy give a pleased giggle.
“Dust!” she replied, twirling her stake.
“Get her, boys! Here’s your first meal.” He pointed at Buffy and turned to run, only to explode from the stake she’d thrown at his back. The two fledglings blinked, but their instinctive need for blood didn’t allow them time to figure out what had happened to him. They leapt at Buffy, surprised when she wasn’t there, but now behind them. She pulled another stake from her sleeve and faced the two confused vampires.
Suddenly, a small flying bat was circling them, emitting sounds that Buffy couldn’t hear, but the vampires apparently could. They milled around in confusion before one of them saw Bat-Spike and swatted at him, knocking him away. But he came back and continued to circle them, allowing Buffy to stake the most bat-focused of them before the vamp even knew she was there.
The last one leapt at her, catching her hand with his and yanking her toward his fangs. Unfortunately for him, he’d grabbed the hand not holding a stake and Buffy simply used the force of his yank to run her stake through his chest. Sneezing at the dust she’d created, Buffy waved it away with her now-free hand.
“Are you okay?” she asked as Spike landed on her shoulder. He snuggled up to her chin, and she felt his little head nodding up and down.
“Well, let’s get you in someplace safe and fed, so I can get home.”
The rest of the walk to his crypt was uneventful, Buffy striding along, senses alert, and Spike riding quietly on her shoulder. As she pulled the heavy door open and then pushed in the inner door, Buffy realized that she’d been right about Bat-Spike’s ability to let himself into his home.
“Wow. You’ll never be able to get in and out of here by yourself,” she said. “I’ll have to leave the doors open when I go out.” She waited for him to get off her shoulder, but he just sat there, looking around.
“You do have some blood here, don’t you?” she asked. He gave her one of his soft nods against her chin, then fluttered off to sit on top of the refrigerator. She gave a sigh and nodded herself.
“Oh yeah. I guess you can’t open refrigerators either.”
She walked to the fridge and opened it, taking out a carton of blood and searching for something to put it in. Locating a shallow dish near the beat-up, but apparently functional, microwave oven, she poured some of the blood into the dish and set it in to warm up. By the time she’d recovered the container and put it away, it had warmed up enough and she set it on the small table.
Spike chirped at her, which she chose to interpret as being bat for “thank you”, then began to lap at the warm blood. Buffy watched him for a bit, curious as to how quickly he seemed to be learning how to be a bat. She soon realized that lapping up blood was going to take much longer than his usual guzzling it down without pausing to breathe, and she sighed again. He looked up at her and squeaked what almost seemed to be a question.
“It’s late,” she explained. “And I’m tired. And I don’t know what to do with you. If I leave you here, you’ll be stuck until I can come back. Unless I leave the door open, and then anything might come in and eat you. And I can’t take you home with me. Mom isn’t going to want a bat flying around in the house.”
Spike stopped his lapping long enough to fly to her shoulder again and nuzzle her neck. Buffy tried not to notice how good it felt to have his furry little body so close to her. He squeaked again, then growled in apparent frustration when he couldn’t make himself understood. He flew to the door, then back to his blood, then to her shoulder and back to the door. He’d made the round trip twice before she frowned and asked, “Are you telling me it’s okay to leave you?”
Once more she felt the now-familiar nod against her chin. Without thinking about who the cute little animal actually was, she unconsciously petted the soft fur as she responded.
“Well, okay. If you’re sure you’ll be all right. I’ll come by sometime tomorrow to check on you, ‘k?”
He nodded again, then went to his dish of blood. He replied to her quiet, “Good night, Spike” with a squeak, then went back to lapping up his dinner. She left quickly, closing both doors behind her.
“He’ll be fine,” she mumbled to herself as she hurried to her mother’s house. “He’ll be fine. And if he isn’t, so what? It’s just Spike.” Satisfied that she’d done what she could for him, she let herself in and went right to bed.
After meeting Riley for breakfast before he went in to work the rest of the day, Buffy found herself at loose ends. “Might as well check on Spike,” she said to Willow, who was also going to be busy all afternoon.
“Are you going to keep taking care of him?” Willow asked with a small frown. “I mean, what if he stays a bat forever? He’s probably still immortal. You could have a pet bat for the rest of your life!”
“Huh. I haven’t really thought that far ahead. Although, it was kinda cool to be walking around with a bat on my shoulder. I’ll bet no other slayers have bats as accessories.”
“There are no other slayers,” Willow said with an eye roll. “Except for Faith, and she doesn’t count.”
“I’ll bet she’d want a bat if she could have one,” Buffy sniffed. “But she can’t. He’s my bat.”
Buffy approached Spike’s crypt, happy to see that the doors didn’t appear to be disturbed, and opening them quickly, leaving both doors ajar to allow more light into the big room. The first sight to meet her eyes was Spike—apparently sound asleep on top of a sarcophagus—once again back to being a vampire. A naked vampire. One whose clothes were across the room where Buffy had left them the night before.
She stood, gawking at what she was forced to admit was a very gawkable body, until she noticed that Spike’s eyes were open and focused on her in confusion. She whirled away from him, dropping the boots she’d picked up on the way there, and running to grab his clothes to throw at him.
“Get dressed!” she almost shrieked. “You’re not a bat anymore. Put some clothes on!”
“Huh. I’m not, am I?” He sat up and patted himself all over as if not sure he believed it. “I was a bat when I went to sleep.”
“Well, you aren’t now, so cover up!”
Keeping her eyes averted, Buffy picked his jeans up from where they’d landed when she threw them at him, and held them out with one hand, covering her eyes with the other. She felt him take them from her and waited until she heard the sound of a zipper being pulled closed before dropping her hand to look at him.
“That’s much better,” she muttered, still trying to keep her eyes off his torso and the way his jeans hung on his hips, leaving a small trail of light brown hair to disappear behind the zipper. “Shirt now, please,” she added as she caught him trying to smother a laugh.
Without answering, except for a snicker she pretended not to hear, he pulled the tee shirt over his head and ran his hands through his hair.
“All right, Slayer. I’m decent again. You can stop pretending you haven’t seen me naked.”
“You wouldn’t know decent if you fell over it,” she said. “And Bat-Spike was always naked, just soft and furry and cuddly, and I’m stopping now…”
He did laugh aloud then before moving to his fridge and taking out a container of blood.
“I reckon I owe you for taking care of me as good as you did last night. I appreciate it. I’d have been hard put to get myself in here and fed.” He wrinkled his nose. “Insects are highly overrated if you ask me.”
“You seemed happy enough to have them last night.”
“Was a bit of fun, catching them like that. But I really needed to have my blood.”
“You probably would have been all right,” Buffy said. “At least you would have until you woke up naked somewhere outside this morning.” She giggled at the thought of Spike falling asleep on the sidewalk outside Willy’s and waking up naked in the morning.
“Ha, bloody, ha, Slayer,” he growled, but he was smiling at her anyway.
“So, do you think that’s it? You’re all yourself again?”
“Don’t have any idea. I’d like to think it’s over, but who knows what that soddin’ piece of Eurotrash did to me? For all I know, as soon as the sun goes down, I’ll be out of my kit and wearing wings again.”
Buffy frowned. “Well, you probably better make sure you’re home then at sunset so you don’t get caught out somewhere. I’ll come by on my way to patrol to check on you in case you’re a bat again.”
“I’d appreciate that, pet. I promise not to be naked…. unless you’d like me to, of course….”
“Was worth a try,” he said with a shrug. “See you tonight, Slayer.”
“Later, Spike.” She waved and went back outside, leaving the doors open in case he wanted the fresh air while he was able to protect himself.
After explaining to her mother about Spike’s misadventure with Dracula and his condition the night before, Buffy left to see what shape he was in now that the sun was going down. Telling herself she was not, definitely not, hoping he was not only still Spike shaped, but naked again, she entered Restfield much more eagerly than she usually would have.
When she got to the crypt, she saw that the outer door was closed, so she knew Spike had remained in his normal form at least long enough to close the doors. She pushed the inner door open, then, at the last second said, “Spike? I’m here. You’d better have clothes on….”
The only reply was the now-familiar high-pitched squeaking that meant he was back to being a bat.
“Oh no,” she said as she entered the room and stared around. “Where are you? It’s dark in here!”
She felt something soft brush her cheek as the bat landed on her shoulder and muttered little squeaky sounds into her ear.
“Oh Spike, I’m so sorry! What do you think it means?”
Bat-Spike squeaked and growled and flew around the room in a fury. Buffy couldn’t make out any words, but she was sure it was just as well since the sounds he was making sounded like the bat version of obscenities. When he’d calmed down and was back on her shoulder she stroked him softly until he stopped his high-pitched muttering.
“Okay, I guess it’s time we brought in the big guns,” she sighed. “Let’s go find Giles and Willow and see about breaking this curse.”
She walked towards Giles’s apartment, chattering to Spike the whole time until she noticed the people she passed on the street staring at her warily.
“What? You’ve never seen anybody with a pet bat before?” she demanded when a couple stopped and blatantly stared at her.
“Does it talk back to you?” the woman asked, apparently unembarrassed to have been caught staring.
“Yes. As a matter of fact he does. Say something to the lady, Spike.”
He obliged with a short and very likely unflattering series of squeaks, that made Buffy laugh even though she had no idea what he’d said.
“Let’s go, Spike. We don’t want to be late for the meeting.” Buffy flounced away, giggling at the expression on the woman’s face.
“It’s a good thing I don’t speak bat,” she said, still giggling. “If I did, I’m pretty sure I’d have to be apologizing to her for your language.”
Spike nodded against her chin and purred his response. They continued in comfortable silence until they got where they were going and Buffy knocked once and pushed the door open.
“Hi Giles! We’re here. I mean, I’m here, and Spike’s here, but he’s a bat again.”
Giles looked up from his desk and frowned. “Again?”
“Oh yeah. When I checked on him this morning, he was himself, but it looks like the curse is still there, and when it got dark, he turned back into a bat. So we need to find a way to fix this.”
“Indeed. It must be quite inconvenient.”
Spike left Buffy’s shoulder to fly around the room, squeaking his displeasure, and then settled on a lampshade, hanging upside down as if in a roost. Buffy giggled at him, even as Giles grumbled about the potential damage to his lamp if Spike was to suddenly turn back in a human-sized vampire.
“It’ll be fine, Giles,” she said, waving her hand at him. “It only happened when he was asleep and the sun was up. Until tomorrow morning, he’s gonna be a bat.” She stroked the soft fur on his stomach and cooed, “A cute little furry bat.” Spike seemed to squirm as she gently scratched at him, making her come even closer. “Are you a ticklish little bat? Does it make you laugh when I tickle your tummy?” Putting actions to words, she poked him with her fingertips, running them all over his front and sides.
With a squeal of outrage, he left the lamp and flew up to hang on a curtain, glaring down at the laughing slayer. Giles couldn’t hide a smile, but he did say, “Buffy, are you sure this is an appropriate way to treat someone you know to be grown man? It seems quite disrespectful for you to treat Spike as if he were a pet hamster.”
Buffy flushed at the reminder that she’d been running her hands all over someone she knew would be a naked male vampire if the curse were to suddenly fail.
“I guess you’re right,” she sighed. “But it’s so much fun, and he’s so cute!” She looked up at the still glaring bat. “I’m sorry, Spike. I keep forgetting that you’re really you. Forgive me?”
He stopped glaring and growling, but remained hanging on the curtain rod rather than going back to the shoulder she was patting hopefully.
“Just leave him be, Buffy. He can hear and see what we’re doing from up there and if he has anything to add, he can perhaps find a way to tell us. Or, if not, he can tell us tomorrow when he is once again a man… er… vampire.”
When everyone was there, seated in chairs or on the couch, Buffy introduced the problem in question.
“So, guys, here’s the deal. When it was daylight, Spike turned back into himself while he was sleeping. And he was like that all day until the sun went down. Then, poof! Back to being a bat. So, what we need to figure out is how to break the curse so he doesn’t have to spend every night chasing bugs.”
“Why not?” Xander glanced up at Bat-Spike, now quietly hanging near the ceiling. “He gets to fly around being a bat all night, then sleeps all day like a normal vampire. As long as you’re feeding him….” He turned his eyes on Buffy. “Are you feeding him? Did he drink blood last night?”
Buffy sighed. “I did feed him. But if I know he’s going to be himself when the sun comes up, I just need to make sure he has enough blood in the fridge and that he’s safely home while he’s a bat if he isn’t with me. He can feed himself in the daytime when he’s a vampire.”
“Does he have to be with you at night?” Willow frowned. “I mean, he could hang out here, or wherever, couldn’t he? You could even take him home with you and he could visit with your mom when he’s human—er vampire—again.”
Buffy’s eyes flew to where Spike was obviously having a bat-like coughing fit, and she started shaking her head vigorously.
“Oh no. No. He needs to be in his crypt when he changes back to himself. Trust me!”
They all stared at her, waiting for more explanation, but when none was forthcoming and the pink was fading from her cheeks, Giles took control again.
“So,” he said. “There is no real urgency to our quest for a solution then. We simply need to keep his refrigerator supplied with pigs blood, and Buffy needs to make sure he is safely home for the night before she stops patrolling and goes to her home.”
Spike flew down to sit on Buffy’s shoulder and begin squeaking vigorously at Giles.
“Do you know what he’s saying, Buffy?” he asked, frowning. “Why is he so agitated?”
“I don’t speak bat,” Buffy responded, as she ran a soothing hand down Spike’s back. “But I’d guess he didn’t like your idea that there’s no rush to fix him.” She continued stroking him until he stopped squeaking and huddled up next to her face and neck. Behind them, Xander made a strangled sound.
“Buffy! That flying rodent is really Spike. Why are you letting him cuddle up to you like that? Get him away from your neck!”
“It’s fine, Xander. Sheesh. He isn’t going to bite me, and even if he tried, his teeth are too tiny to hurt me.”
“But… he’s being… cuddly. Bats aren’t cuddly, and vampires definitely aren’t cuddly. Make him go away.”
“He looks pretty cuddly to me,” Willow volunteered. “All soft and furry.”
“I think he makes an excellent pet for Buffy,” Anya said. “It’s not like a bat and a vampire slayer aren’t both creatures of the night. And anyway, he’s cute, in a rodentish sort of way. Don’t you think so, Buffy?”
Buffy smile and nodded. “He is cute, isn’t he? Almost like a stuffed animal that you’d put on your bed.”
Bat-Spike started a high-pitched growl that faded off to a purr when Buffy picked him up and nuzzled his furry belly. He relaxed completely in her hands and just lay there purring while she cuddled and nuzzled him. His little eyes, that had been closed in bliss, abruptly popped open and he flipped himself over and took to the air. Buffy blinked in surprise.
“What’s wrong, Spike? Did I hurt you? It’s hard to know what might be too rough for a bat.”
He gave a reassuring squeak and circled back to her shoulder. Keeping himself a distance away from her neck and face. When she repeated her question about whether she’d hurt him, he shook his head and bumped her chin softly before retreating to the end of her shoulder. Buffy frowned her confusion at him, but shrugged and went back to talking to Giles.
“So, anyway. Maybe it’s not an emergency exactly, but I’m sure he’d be happier not to keep bouncing back and forth between a bat and a vampire. And, not that making sure he gets home safe after patrol is a burden, exactly, but unless I start taking him home with me, it just makes for an even later night than usual.”
“Why can’t you take him home with you?” Anya asked. “You never did say why he couldn’t stay with somebody else or with you.”
Buffy stammered and stuttered, finally settling for, “Well, bats don’t wear clothes, you know? I mean on account of all that soft fur… and… vampires do. Or at least they should, but they can’t if they fall asleep while they’re bats…. and….”
Anya caught her drift immediately. “OMG, Buffy! Have you seen Spike naked? You have, haven’t you? That’s how you know he’s naked when he changes back.” She gazed at Buffy’s red face speculatively. “What does he look like naked? Is he as built as it looks like he should be?”
Catching the thunderous expression on Xander’s face, she quickly added, “Not that I’ve thought about what Spike looks like naked. Or like I actually care. I have my own quite pleasantly put together boyfriend, so of course I don’t care what Spike looks like naked!”
Giles cleared his throat. “If I’m getting the gist of this, if the only problem is that Spike needs to wake up in the vicinity of his normal clothing, there’s no reason he can’t be left here, or at the Magic Box, or even at Buffy’s home as long as he has clothing available those places and everyone is aware that he will need privacy for a few minutes after sunrise.”
“I want to go on record as saying, there will be no bat-sitting at my place,” Xander said. “No bats, and definitely no naked vampires, no matter how compact and muscular they might be.” When everyone stared at him, his face got pale. “Not that I’ve given any thought to naked Spike’s build either!” he quickly insisted. “I’m just saying I don’t want him in my vicinity.”
“Okaaaay,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “Don’t be naked in front of Xander, Spike.” She smothered a giggle, but she knew without looking that Spike was giving a bat version of a smirk. “Stop that,” she hissed at him, only to be squeaked at defiantly.
“So, if we go back to his crypt now and get some extra clothes to leave other places he might end up being in the morning, he should be okay until you and Willow figure out how to break Dracula’s curse. I mean, how hard can it be? He’s a vampire, not a sorcerer, right?”
“We’ve got this, Spike. Don’t worry. You won’t have to stay on Buffy’s shoulder much longer.” Willow saw the expression on Xander’s face, and added, “Don’t worry, Buffy. You won’t have to carry him around much longer.”
“Right… Well, it’s not a big deal usually. He even tries to be helpful when I’m slaying….” She frowned. “At least I think he’s being helpful. He might just be flying around making fun of them in bat language for all I know.” Her eyes got wide and she turned to look down at the little blue eyes on her shoulder. “Can they understand you?”
He blinked, then looked away briefly.
“Spiiiike…” Buffy warned.
He hopped closer and did his yes nod against her chin.
“Really? That is fascinating, Spike. Tell me more about that ability to communicate with vampires while you’re a bat….” His voice trailed off as Spike squeaked what was obviously a derogatory reply. “Yes, quite,” Giles said as if he’d understood every high-pitched word. “I meant, of course, during the daytime when you can communicate with me properly. Shall we say, the Magic Box, around noon tomorrow?”
Spike rubbed his head against Buffy, growling softly as he did so.
“He said yes,” Buffy offered. “But he doesn’t sound happy about it. I think he sleeps most of the day.” Spike cuddled up against her, nodded and purred his appreciation.
“What about late afternoon then? Before sunset. If he’s there when he changes, then he’ll have a set of clothes at the Magic Box for future emergencies.”
Spike gave a tiny shrug that only Buffy was aware of, then squeaked his assent.
“Okay. If that’s settled, we’re going to go patrol and I’ll get some clothes to take home with me, and tomorrow afternoon he’ll leave some at the Magic Box in case he needs them there. I guess if for some reason he spent the night here, he could borrow something of yours to wear.”
Identical vocal expressions of shock and dismay, one much more high-pitched than the other, greeted her idea, and everyone in the room except Giles and Spike burst into laughter.
“On that note….” Buffy walked to the door, bat in place on her shoulder.
As they closed the door behind them, Xander said, “Does anybody else feel like she’s way too comfortable having a pet bat that turns into a naked vampire at sunrise?”
Giles sighed, and the girls just rolled their eyes at him.
“I think it’s kind of… sweet,” Tara said. “I don’t think slayers probably have a chance to have pets of their own. A bat is pretty appropriate if you think about it. I think Buffy is enjoying this.”
“I think Spike’s enjoying it too,” Anya said, refusing to elaborate of why she thought so. Somehow she was sure if she shared what she thought happened when Buffy was nuzzling Spike’s belly, it would not go over well with anyone, least of all her boyfriend.
Buffy was walking along, not feeling any vampire vibes, when Spike suddenly began squeaking in her ear. She had no idea what he was saying, but she could hear the frustration building as the shrill sounds went higher until they were too far out of the range of her ears. With one last angry squeal, he launched himself off her shoulder and into the face of a slavering demon that had popped up from an open grave beside them.
Buffy watched helplessly as Spike threw himself at the demon time after time, only to be swatted down every time until he no longer got up. Snapping out of her shock, Buffy kicked the demon in what she hoped was a knee. Wishing she’d thought to bring a sword, she slashed at him with her stake while glancing around for a more formidable weapon. For lack of anything else, she grabbed a stone statue of an angel and whacked him across the face with it. Fortunately, it seemed to discourage him, and he ran away as well as something that looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy with teeth and claws could.
Buffy collapsed to the ground, wondering if she’d caused herself a serious injury by snatching up what she was now realizing had been a very, very solid and heavy angel. Glancing around, she could see that it was now in several, no doubt still very heavy, pieces.
“Guess that explains why he ran away,” she muttered. “I’ll bet that hurt him almost as much as it did me. Speaking of which….” She tried to stand up, only to give a small cry when her back and stomach muscles screamed at her that it was an incredibly bad idea. She sank down again, leaning against a tombstone, whimpering with frustration. Glancing around, she realized she hadn’t seen or heard Spike since the last time the demon smacked him down.
“Spike? Are you okay? Where are you?”
A subdued, soft squeak had her staring around the dark cemetery. “Where’s the damn moon when you need it?” she grumbled, searching with her eyes for some sign of Spike, finally catching a small movement from the corner of her eye. In middle of one of the black shadows on the equally black ground, she caught the flash of a blue eye and a very tiny white fang.
Clenching her teeth and moving slowly, she inched her way across the distance separating them, gasping whenever she made a movement too suddenly, and what she now feared might be seriously torn muscles screamed at her. When she got to Spike, she lowered her head to put her face near him, trying to see what was wrong. One wing seemed to be dragging on the ground as he tried to make his way to her, and she reached out with one hand so he could cling to her thumb while she pulled him closer to her face.
“Is it broken?”
She felt him nod against her hand, and she sighed.
“We can’t stay here, you know. I can’t fight right now, and you can’t fly away. We’re sitting ducks—or slayer and bat, anyway.”
He just nodded again and cuddled closer in her hand, purring sympathetically. Buffy sighed and pulled herself to a sitting position. After she caught her breath from the pain caused by moving her torso, she asked Bat-Spike, “Can you hang on to my shoulder? I’m gonna need both hands to push myself off the ground.”
He nodded, and with her assistance, made his way up her arm, using his claws and dragging the broken wing. When he’d settled on her shoulder again, she took a deep breath, then exhaled. “Okay, here we go. I can do this….” It took her two tries, and a lot of swearing, but she was eventually back on her feet. She swayed briefly, then took a tentative step. Finding that small, slow steps allowed her to progress with a minimal amount of pain, she headed in the general direction of Spike’s crypt. Small chirps from him kept her on the right path, and after what seemed like hours, but probably wasn’t, she found herself sighing in relief when the familiar doors came in sight.
They’d managed the entire trip without mishap, only running into one vampire that was too frightened of Buffy to bother noticing she could barely hold herself up, and he ran away screaming. Spike’s high-pitched snort of disgust made Buffy smile even as she was grateful not to have had to use her arms to fight or stake him. She was sure Spike’s precarious one-wing grip on her shoulder wouldn’t have survived a fight any better than she would have.
Buffy scolded herself mentally when she saw the ajar door, and realized they had left it open when leaving earlier. “It was dumb to leave this open, but I’m really glad we did now,” she muttered, as she slipped in through the outer door and gave the inner one a nudge with her hip. It too, wasn’t closed tightly and she was able to enter the crypt easily. The very dark crypt, in which she couldn’t see a thing, or find a candle to light.
Spike was squeaking in her ear, trying to urge her farther into the room.
“I can’t see!” she complained. “I’m going to trip over something and kill us both!”
He gave a sigh of bat-sized exasperation and bumped her with his head, nudging her in one direction.
“Oh, I guess you can see? Or whatever it is bats do to get around in the dark. I didn’t think about that. Can you help me find a candle? And your lighter?”
With a certain amount of miscommunication and stumbling, Buffy eventually fetched up against a table and felt around on it. She knocked a pack of cigarettes to the floor, causing little bat growls in her ear, but that told her she’d found the right place, so she felt around very carefully until she found both the lighter and a candle. She flicked the lighter on and easily saw the candle to light it. She gave a happy sigh at being able to see again.
She made her slow way back to the doors, but knew there was no way she could pull the outer door closed. She leaned against the inner door, and using her torso as little as possible, she allowed her weight to push it until it was closed tightly. She leaned against it briefly, taking deep breaths, almost forgetting about Bat-Spike until he rubbed up against her neck, making snuffling sounds.
“Yeah, yeah. We made it. Yay us. I hope to hell we’re safe in here, ‘cause I still can’t lift my arms without making my whole body hurt!” She took him off her shoulder and set him on the table. “I guess I should see if I can fix your wing,” she said, studying the fragile and intricate-looking structure. He shook his little head, squeaking out incomprehensible words that seemed meant to say it would be okay.
“Okay, fine. Be broken, then,” she said with a yawn as he dragged himself back up to her shoulder. “I need to get some sleep until my slayer healing kicks in.” She eyed the ratty old couch, then yawned again. “Any port in a storm, I guess,” she sighed as she lowered herself carefully onto the cushions. She bit her lip against the pain, and reached for his coat where it was hanging on the back, using it to cover herself. She was too tired to tell Spike he couldn’t sleep with her when he curled up next to her neck, but she did manage to mumble, “You better not wake up naked on top of me,” before closing her eyes. If he responded with anything other than a purr, she didn’t hear it.
She awakened several hours later to see the faint light of dawn through the dirty windows of the crypt. Without opening her eyes, but noticing that there was no bat cuddled up to her neck, she said, “You’d better have your pants on, Spike. I might want to open my eyes.”
She heard his soft chuckle, as well as the soft ding of the microwave.
“Just keep ‘em closed, pet. In fact, go on back to sleep. It’s just now sunrise. Too early for you to be up, and time for me to drink some blood and start to heal.”
“Put your pants on,” she muttered, but rolled over to sleep some more. She was grateful to learn that her slayer healing had somewhat kicked in, and she was still sore, but capable of movement without screaming. And she was perfectly happy to be able to sleep longer.
The next time she woke up, she opened her eyes cautiously and peered around the room to find Spike sitting in a chair only a few feet away, staring at her with a smirk on his face. A quick glance showed her that he was wearing his jeans, so she sighed and sat up.
“Think you’re funny, don’t you?” she grumbled as he didn’t try to hide his laugh at her fearful expression when she first opened her eyes.
“I think I know what you were worried about seein’,” he said, still chuckling. “Sorry I’m not still furry and cute.”
Proving to herself that she was not fully awake yet, she looked him up and down, then blushed and said, “Not so furry, but still kinda cute.” Horrified at herself, she quickly ducked back under the coat and tried to pretend she hadn’t said that. Maybe he didn’t hear me…?
One peek at his clearly shocked expression told her that was a faint hope. She waited, hoping he would let it go, and knowing he probably wouldn’t. But, to her surprise, he didn’t say anything, just getting out of the chair and walking to his “kitchen”, giving her time to school her face into an expression of mild curiosity.
“So, how’s the arm today?”
“It’s my shoulder,” he responded. “The wings are more like… fingers. And it’s a mite better, but still not working very well. Don’t want to have to fight anybody today, that’s for sure.”
“Well, it’s daytime, so I’m hoping neither one of will have to fight anything.”
“Still sore, are you?” She looked away from the concern on his face, finding it more uncomfortable than a smirk.
“Yeah. I’m better, but still pretty sore. I don’t know what I pulled, or if I tore something important, but please remind me in the future that heavy stone statues are, you know, heavy!”
She smiled at his soft laugh and “Done, luv”, then asked, “What the hell was that thing? And were you trying to warn me? Is that why you were shouting at me in bat?”
He laughed again, then nodded. “Was. I could smell and hear it, and I knew you wouldn’t be able to do either of those things until it was too late. Next time I’m having a bat-sized meltdown, do us both a favor and pay attention, yeah?” He waited for her to nod, then added, “As for what it was, some sort of grave-robbin’ ghoul, I think. Not sure I’ve ever seen one in this country, but Europe has them. Not something vamps are likely to run into often—being that we like our prey alive and breathing, not dead and rotting.”
“Indeed.” As he spoke, he picked up a tee shirt and frowned at it. “Was a bit of a challenge gettin’ my trousers on,” he said, gesturing to the arm still dangling at his side. “Don’t suppose I could get some assistance with m’shirt?”
Buffy gulped, having long since noticed that his jeans were zipped, but not buttoned, and that he wasn’t wearing anything else.
“I can try,” she said in what she hoped was a casual manner. “I’ll pull it over your head for you at least. Or, maybe you could wear a different shirt? Like one that buttons up the front and doesn’t have to be pulled on?”
“Would do that if it wasn’t that those are downstairs and I don’t see either one of us pulling that trap door open just now.”
“Right. I can’t do it because owie…. and you can’t do it because it’s more of a two-arm job.”
“Exactly.” He waited, holding his shirt in his good hand.
Buffy took it from him and held it so the neck was open. “I can’t lift my arms that high right now,” she said. “Maybe you should sit down?”
“Sure, pet, I can do that if it makes it easier.” He perched on a rickety wooden chair and waited while she tried to get the shirt over his head without hurting his shoulder or her own still very unhappy muscles. She managed to pull it most of the way over his head, but hissed in pain when she tried to yank too hard.
“Don’t do it, if it’s going to hurt you,” he said quickly, putting his good arm up to stop her. “I don’t need to wear a shirt. It’s not like I get cold.”
“No, no, I’ve got this. I just pulled too hard.” She continued to work it down over his head, muttering, “Maybe you shouldn’t wear such tight shirts.” When it was over his head and hanging around his neck, she said, “Now what?”
“Good question.” He put his good arm through the armhole on that side and tugged the shirt part way down.
Buffy cocked her head at him, trying to focus on the problem and not on the fact that she was standing only inches away from Spike’s very unfurry, but still appealing, body.
“I think, maybe, you’re just going to have to leave that arm out. Or keep it tucked inside the shirt so you don’t have to move it? That might be even better. Kinda like a sling, only a tee shirt.”
“Maybe,” he said dubiously. “Either way, I’m not going to be usin’ it for a while. Let’s give it a try.”
He used his left hand to tuck the useless right arm against his ribs and waited for Buffy to pull the shirt down over it. She pulled as hard as she could without hurting herself or ripping the fabric, stretching it so as to get it over his shoulder without touching it. When she’d accomplished that, she continued pulling gently until it was all the way down his body. His gasp when her fingers brushed the skin of his stomach made them both flinch and look away from each other. Buffy gave a last tug, then stepped away and exhaled loudly.
“Well. I think that’s the best we can do right now. I guess you can fix your own meals now?”
“Yeah. I’ll be fine, luv. Thanks for the help. I should be able to get my boots on by myself when it’s time to go to the Watcher’s. With luck, I won’t run into anything nasty in the sewers while I’m on my way there.”
Buffy frowned. “I’d offer to escort you, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be much help yet. Maybe you should put it off till tomorrow?”
“Nah, I’ll just take a sword with me. I’ve got the use of my left arm, so I won’t be all that handicapped. I’ll meet you there later.” He looked at her intently. “You be careful on the way home, yeah?”
“I’ll be fine. It’s daytime, so not much evil lurking about to worry about. I’m just going loll around and let slayer healing keep doing its thing.”
“Right then. You’ll rest up, and I’ll rest up, and maybe by tonight we’ll both be off the injured list.”
“I hope so. See you later, Spike.” She walked toward the door he’d apparently already opened before she woke up.
Buffy went out into the sunlight, trying very hard to forget both Spike’s gasp when she touched his skin, and the way they both seemed to be worrying about each other more than was normal.
After a day spent catching up on sleep, and soaking in a hot bubble bath, Buffy was starting to feel more like herself. Although, a sharp pain in her side that sent her doubling over when she tried to reach something on a high shelf in the kitchen made it obvious that she hadn’t recovered completely from the worst of her injuries. She felt around carefully, moving her arms in different directions and identifying the places she thought she had the worst damage.
“Crap,” she muttered just as her mother walked in.
“I beg your pardon?” Joyce said. “And, by the way, where were you last night?”
“Sorry, Mom. I was just complaining that my slayer healing isn’t working as fast as it could be.”
“You’re hurt? Why didn’t you say so? What’s wrong?”
Buffy filled her mother in on the events of the previous evening, as well as Spike’s bat attempts to warn her about the ghoul and his own lack of success in fighting it.
“So, you both got hurt? Where is he?” Joyce looked around as if Spike should have come home with Buffy.
“Spike the bat got a broken wing, and Spike the vampire has a broken shoulder this morning. He’s at his crypt where he can guzzle blood all day and hope his vamp healing works better than what I’ve got.” She stopped and frowned. “Actually, he’s probably on his way to the Magic Box by now. Giles wants to talk to him about Dracula and being a bat and stuff, and he can’t ask questions when Spike’s a bat because all Spike can do then is make ear-piercing noises.”
“Did you spend the night at Rupert’s then? Why didn’t he bring you home?”
“No, Mom. I told you, after I threw that statue, I could barely walk upright. I stumbled to Spike’s crypt with him hanging onto my shoulder and collapsed on the couch. I fell asleep there, and came home this morning.”
“You spent the night with Spike?” Joyce’s voice went up an octave.
“He was a bat, Mom. A teeny little bat with a broken wing. He wasn’t himself until the sun came up this morning.” At her mother’s dubious expression, she added, “I’ll bring him by tonight after he turns into a bat again, and you can see how cute and harmless he is. ‘K?”
Chapters 4 – 6 are here.
Originally posted at: https://seasonal-spuffy.livejournal.com/737295.html