Rating: PG-13. Maybe R for swearing.
Beta'd by: slackerace (Though I may have added errors since she looked it over.)
There should have been another part to this, turns out two months isn't long enough for me to finish two really short fics. Sorry. It'll be up on my journal in a couple of weeks, I think it works okay as a standalone.
Buffy swung open the door to Spike's crypt almost silently. Somehow dying had taken all the joy from busting it open, seeing if she could take the solid old oak right off its cast iron hinges and startle the vampire inside. Since her resurrection it just didn't seem funny any more to give the undead heart attacks, so she turned the handle and let the door swing open. The upper level was in silent darkness, a faint glow of candlelight coming from the trapdoor. Quietly Buffy descended the ladder.
Her missing sister was curled up on Spike's bed, completely buried by just a corner of his luxurious quilt, only the top of her head showing. Spike himself was sprawled in his usual careless fashion, fast asleep across the pillows, obviously naked though the quilt was covering his lower half.
Buffy froze, something sick and angry twisting inside her stomach at the sight of her sister sleeping so peacefully next to something that even in sleep looked so sinful.
Spike woke as a warm hand clamped over his mouth and strong fingers yanked him from the bed. The scent of Buffy was surrounding him, as was the scent of last nights Jack; Spike didn't think to struggle until he realised she was going to toss him straight down into the sewer tunnels and by then he was already flying through the air. He landed with a painful thump, closely followed by a dirty pair of jeans. Spike started to pull them on as the Slayer jumped down after him, barely having time to tuck his tackle inside before she was attacking.
The first blow landed on the softest part of his nose with enough force to send the vampire back into the stone wall of the tunnel and he yowled in pain. He shook his head, fuzzy with sleep and booze and now concussion, and tried to remember what the hell he'd done this time.
"Did you touch her?" Buffy spat.
Spike struggled to his feet as she loomed over him. It was a slower manouvre than usual and a mistake, putting him at a nice height to be kicked in the head.
"Easy, Slayer," he gasped as his body bounced off the opposite wall.
For a second he assumed she'd cracked, turned murderous by the strain of life after heaven but the predator stalking after him wasn't feral, just mad as hell. This time Spike stayed down, holding his hands up placatingly, but that didn't help either. She punched again, he ducked his head and her fist hit the wall. Spike thought he heard knuckle bones crack but it didn't stop her pulling back her arm to hit again.
"Did I touch who?" he asked, a little desperately. There was no stake out yet but from the look of her that was an oversight and Spike didn't want to die with no buggering clue what was going on.
"Dawn! Did you... touch her?"
Oh. Spike stood up and threw her off.
"You think I'm dicking your little sister?" he asked incredulously.
Buffy hesitated a second but still punched him again, square on the jaw and Spike was momentarily so angry he punched her back. "You fucking bitch!"
But the eyes that stared back at him were so tired and overwhelmed it seemed as if anger was the only thing keeping her standing. And Spike finally noticed the other scent that had surrounded him since he'd woken up, put it together with fuzzy drunken memories and realised this wasn't this week's excuse to kick the crap out of Spike but a real and immediate fear.
"What am I supposed to think? You were naked!" Despite her resolve not to wake the sleeping teen on the upper level her voice was raised by that last word. She threw another punch but it lacked venom and this time Spike managed to dance out of reach.
"I wasn't expecting company!" he yelled back. "I was asleep, Buffy."
"Oh." She checked her next punch mid swing. The tiny bit of fire that had carried her this far went out and her shoulders slumped. "You didn't know she was there?"
"Well not really," the vampire admitted with a guilty shuffle. "I was three sheets to the wind, love, I don't really remember." The Slayer's eyes flashed and Spike took another step back, held up his hands again. "Don't hit me! I didn't touch her, Buffy. Never laid a finger on her, not in any wrong way."
She stopped her advance but her hands were still tight fists, posture ready to move. "I kept my promise," the vampire added pleadingly. "Not when it counted, not when it would have helped you, but since. I kept her safe. And I ain't so stupid about humans that I think I could fuck her without causing her harm, I wouldn't, okay? Not even if she asked me to."
Though her eyes didn't leave his and the look was far from friendly Buffy's hands opened, arms fell limply by her sides.
"May have had a bottle or two last night," he continued slowly, trying oh so hard to keep his voice calm and not put his foot back in his mouth. "But I went to sleep all alone in my own bed. And I woke up, least I think... Think I remember pulling the duvet over her, she was sleeping. And so was I, mostly, and pretty wasted okay? I didn't think to send her home. I'm sorry."
"Oh," said Buffy again, and not for the first time Spike wondered if all of her had really come back from the dead. In movement she was the same Slayer he remembered, purposeful, graceful, and deadly. But when it came to the girl, sometimes there didn't seem to be anyone there at all.
"Done it plenty before," Spike said to fill the silence. "She didn't want to sleep in your house when you were... when you weren't there. Stayed with Red for a bit, then they decided it would be best to all move into your house, only Niblet wasn't having it. Stayed with the whelp, her friends, anything. When the witches tried to force the issue she'd sneak out. I guess I got used to her being there, it didn't make much of an impression when I noticed her, y'know?"
"My friends let my baby sister sleep over at your crypt?" Now the anger had gone there was no emotion left in Buffy's voice. Not even sarcasm.
"No. But she's an inventive little thing and... It always seemed cruel to wake her up and take her back to the place she couldn't sleep." Pointedly Spike wiped the blood from his upper lip. "You ain't the first to bust in here accusing me of kiddy fiddling."
"Right. I shouldn't have..."
Spike waited, wondering for a second if she was actually going to say sorry, but it seemed the Slayer was done with that sentence. The vampire shrugged. "Not exactly against my moral code, my tastes just don't run to flat chested, noisy, hormonal stick insects. And I wouldn't hurt you or yours, one day you're gonna realise that."
Buffy nodded absently, Spike wasn't sure if she'd even heard what he said, wondered why she wasn't waking up Dawn and heading for home. "And I've got too much regard for my own hide to be boning your sister now you're around to stake me for it."
Uh-oh, she heard that alright. Narrowed her eyes then to Spike's surprise gave him a tired half smile. "Okay, I get it. I was... being stupid."
Well that was pretty close to an apology. He smiled back and she compounded his surprise by stringing two statements together. "Why did she... Why's she here now?"
"Dunno Slayer. She'd pretty much stopped, before. The bot was at your place and very nearly everyone else and... Well time heals, doesn't it? Maybe," he suggested bravely, "She was worried about you."
"So she sneaks out in the middle of the night and scares me half to death?"
"Teenager, pet," answered Spike with the tone of a parent who'd learnt from hard experience. "If they made sense people wouldn't write so many bloody books about them."
"No. I should take the little brat home."
Spike nodded, but she was already ascending the ladder. Dawn was still curled up tightly, undisturbed by the fighting or the shouting.
"You want me to carry her?" Spike offered, following her through the trapdoor. Really he just wanted to pick Buffy up and snuggle her into the bed next to Dawn, in a way that had nothing to do with kinky threesomes. If anything she looked worse than in the first few days after her return, like every day was getting harder, every communication a frowning effort
"It'll be light soon. She needs to go to school, I should wake her." But she hovered uncertainly a few feet from the bed, just watching Dawn sleep.
"May I?" asked Spike, stepping up beside her.
"May you what?"
Spike just winked in answer, leaned over the bed until he was inches from the sleeping girl. "Just got my nose broken," he whispered to Buffy. "Think I'm owed a bit of non violent payback. NOW WAKE UP YOU DISOBEDIENT LITTLE HOUDINI AND GET YOUR ARSE TO SCHOOL!"
Both girls jumped at his bellow but it was the still sleepy Dawn who recovered first, burrowing back into the duvet. "So not funny, Spike. Let me sleep."
"No." He yanked the duvet up, she clung on.
"Cold!" Dawn whined sleepily.
"Evil!" responded the vampire.
"Gimme," she pulled back on the cover, opened one venomous eye. "Gimme or I'll tell my sister you slept with me." Spike froze, cast a wary eye over to the Slayer, but Buffy was just standing with her arms folded watching them argue. Dawn followed his line of sight and finally spotted her sister. "Oh. Hey Buffy!"
"Your bed was empty," said the Slayer stiffly. "I was worried."
"I um... came to visit Spike, but he was unconscious. I didn't mean to go to sleep." She turned her head to repeat this last to the vampire. "Really, I didn't mean to, I was just going to wait for you to wake up so you could walk me home. Did you get drunk and fall on your face again? 'cause your nose is kinda broken."
In answer he tilted his head toward her sister.
"Oh. Oh! No!" she said to Buffy. "It wasn't-"
"We've covered that one," interrupted the vampire. And because the Slayer was still standing there, arms folded, saying nothing, he added, "We're moving on to the part where you snuck out in the middle of the night, like take out on legs. Again. And got my nose smeared across my face. Again. And accused of molesting you. Again. Like I'd want to take up with a child that wears Backstreet Boys pyjamas, because my reputation isn't ruined enough."
He growled at her for good measure but that trick had stopped working a year ago and that particular lecture was old hat to the teen. To be fair to Spike he wasn't at his most intimidating, shirtless and a little battered with hopelessly cute bed hair.
"They're Nsync pyjamas and I'm not a child! I know stuff!"
"You'll know the back of my hand, you try that trick again."
Nose to nose now, squaring up for a regular old squabble. Buffy just watched, bemusedly.
"You like it kinky?"
"You'd break like a twig, you little-"
"Hey!" interrupted the Slayer forcefully. "Unpleasant mental image."
The vampire stepped back quickly, holding his hands up to ward off any more violence. Her attention drawn back to her still fragile sister, Dawn was immediately the model child again.
"I'm sorry, Buffy. I didn't mean to worry you, I just couldn't sleep."
"Well let’s get you home, it's time for breakfast. A very important thing, breakfast."
When Buffy let herself down to the lower level of the crypt Spike was sprawled out in the same decadent pose as the night before. His wiry and naked frame managing to take up most of his spacious bed, this time without her little sister curled up next to him. Though the creak of the heavy door had not woken him, his head shot up as Buffy cleared her throat. It took a split second to register his visitor, then Spike was looking around him wildly.
"She's not here." He pulled the duvet around himself, a gesture more about defence than modesty. "You're not in a killing mood, are you Slayer? 'Cause I think I'm still too pissed to run away."
The Slayer held up her hands to show they were stake free, though Spike knew she could hide those babies in the most unlikely of outfits.
"I wanted to apologise. For, y'know, assuming, and not..." She trailed off, as she did often nowadays, as if nothing was really worth saying.
"That's okay," said Spike softly. "Can see how it must've looked."
Buffy shuffled uncomfortably and looked at the floor. "So we're good? You'll stop being angry with me?"
The vampire raised a surprised eyebrow. "Wasn't angry love, I know how you get over your sister. A little hurt, maybe," he added hopefully. "Wanna kiss it better?"
But Buffy ignored his leer. "You said you were pissed."
"Drunk, pet. Soused. One or several over the eight. Got me back to Willie's after you took your sis home, guess I ended up back here. And since when do you care what I think?"
"I don't," said Buffy quickly. "Are you... still sleepy?"
"I'm alright." The vampire ran his hand through his hair, tried to shake his head sober. "Summat you need, Slayer?"
She shook her head mutely but made no move to leave. Spike pulled the covers tightly round his lower half and patted the bed invitingly. Buffy stared uncomprehendingly for a second, then to Spike's relief moved to sit down. "I didn't want anything. I just came to say sorry for breaking your nose."
"You said that already," said Spike gently. He reached out to take her hand, Buffy stared at his fingers like she didn't quite know what they were but didn't pull her hand away. "And I said it's okay. You're more than welcome to come in here and wrestle me naked any time it takes your fancy."
She gave him a brief, absent smile and again Spike got the uneasy feeling she wasn't really hearing his words, just responding to his teasing tone of voice. Extending that vacant human politeness to the vampire. But even if she wasn't listening the eerie silence was worse than not talking.
"She shouldn't have been here, sneaking out like that, and I shouldn't have let her stay. There's no need to apologise."
"Dawn told me to," said Buffy matter-of-factly, as if it were the most normal thing in the world to be taking instructions from a younger sister. "She said Giles did the same thing."
The vampire snorted. "Broke a lot more than my nose. Niblet had to pull him off or I'd'a been a gonner; fortunately I was fully clothed that time." He grinned at Buffy but she was staring, unseeing, at his slender fingers encasing her own. "Get's me into a lot of trouble, your sis. Considering I'm supposed to be the evil one."
"She told me. Tara too. Thanks for looking after her."
Spike gave her a bitter little smile. "Any time you need someone to get thrown off a tower by a tiny pensioner demon, I'm your man."
Buffy looked up. "Is that what happened?" she asked vaguely. "I was fighting Glory. Or maybe climbing the tower. No one's really... said much about that fight. Anyway, I was talking about when I was gone, thank you for keeping her safe. All of them safe. Tara said you patrolled and stuff."
"Didn't make you any less dead. Took a little girl and her geek friends for that."
Buffy flinched at the words, Spike squeezed her hand contritely. "It was supposed to happen," said Buffy quietly. "I don't think you could have stopped it."
The words 'I'm supposed to be dead' hung unsaid at the end of that sentence, chilling to Spike. "You should tell them," he said abruptly, knowing where her thoughts tended. "Tell them what they did."
"Maybe," Buffy shrugged. "But I'm not going to. And neither are you." Her voice was flat, subject closed. She didn't even bother to add a threat to her voice for those last few words.
"Right," drawled the vampire sarcastically. "Wait till it drives you insane then have yourself a massacre, my kind of plan Slayer."
He'd half hoped for a grin, but Buffy shivered. "Does waking up in a box every night count as insanity?"
"No, pet. Reliving trauma, that's normal. Even Oprah agrees on that one."
"What about being chased down an endless corridor by a guidance counsellor with an axe? Or being strangled by my own plumbing system?"
"Sunnydale, those are valid concerns. Not been sleeping so good, huh?"
It was an unnecessary question, every sleepless night plainly illustrated by the deep shadows under her eyes. The extra lines that hadn't been on the face of the Slayer they'd put in the ground. She was silent a long time, considering her answer or maybe just zoning out.
"Not at all," she confessed eventually. "If you wake up suffocating often enough it kinda puts you off the whole sleep experience."
He squeezed her hand again but she wouldn't look up to meet his eye. They sat in awkward silence for long minutes, Spike for once at a loss for words. "You'll get better," he said firmly but she didn't even bother acknowledging this empty cliche.
"Your sis used to dream about disappearing. That she'd wake up in the morning and you'd all have forgotten who she was. Or that you'd come back, strange enough. In more of a brain eating mood. Said it was always worse in her own bed, where she should be safe."
"She said you helped," said Buffy hesitantly. "She said she could sleep here, she felt comfortable."
"Well I gave the place a bit of a makeover-" Spike cut himself off and gave her a sharp look, but it was hard to read her thoughts through a curtain of hair. "And it's a comfy bed," he added slowly. "Could do with a couple more hours myself."
Buffy still wouldn't look at him as he shuffled over, wriggling down into the bed under his luxurious quilt. But when he pulled down the far corner she kicked off her shoes and curled up on the bed beside him, facing away. Careful to keep the duvet between herself and his naked form he covered her up, draped an arm over the covers and Buffy underneath, not exactly hugging but firmly enough that she would need to utilize the Slayer strength to shift him.
The excess of last night's alcohol was still buzzing, the smell and almost feel of Buffy laying in his bed was adding a whole other kind of high. And okay, Spike could admit it, maybe there was a tiny bit of warm fuzziness mixed in there. Beneath the concern and the sexual attraction, the knowledge that she would come to him for help of the non-violent kind, trust him enough to lay in his bed and close her eyes, well it warmed him. He refused to believe it was a case of any port in a storm.
"I'm so tired," said Buffy, in a tiny, plaintive voice. Spike imagined he could hear a warning in there too.
"You mean no groping? Okay," he agreed serenely, not moving an inch. "Just this once, mind, not sure I can hold out longer'n a few hours."
"Spike..." Buffy twisted her neck to look at him as she spoke, thinking she was about to change her mind and leave the vampire cut her off.
"Kidding, okay? Get some rest, you're safe here."
She gave him a tiny smile and snuggled back into the pillows. "I was only going to say thank you."
Cumulari Part II