Cuddling with the Darkness by slaymesoftly
Chapter #1 - Chapters 1 and 2
“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.
“Why me?”
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 then, you probably better make sure you’re home 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….”
“As if!”
“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. The 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.
Chapter #2 - Chapter 3 and 4
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 sense 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.
“Later, Slayer.”
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?”
To avoid Joyce’s probing questions about Spike and his crypt, Buffy left soon to go to the Magic Box, where she found Spike and Giles in the training room.  Spike was laughing at Giles who was peppering him with questions. He held a clipboard in his hand and was jotting down Spike’s answers as he sputtered them out.
“No. I can’t turn into a bat whenever I want to. If I could, I wouldn’t! Don’t like not being able to take care of myself.”
“But when you’re a bat, you are one hundred percent a bat, are you not? You can’t speak so as to be understood, you have bat anatomy, you can fly, you have fur—”
“His eyes are still blue when he’s a bat,” Buffy interrupted. “That’s not a normal color for a bat. At least I don’t think it is….” she trailed off, realizing she hadn’t done any research on bat eye color.
“I don’t believe it is,” Giles agreed. “How interesting.” He scribbled more notes on his clipboard.
“How’s your arm?” Buffy asked Spike, noting that it was still wrapped inside his shirt.
“I’ll live. How about you?”
“A lot better, but there’s at least one place that is still pretty pissed off at me.  I can’t reach up very high without feeling like I’m ripping something open.”
Giles glanced up from his clipboard. “You were injured? Seriously so?”
“Didn’t you tell him?” Buffy gawked at Spike. “We could have died and you didn’t tell him about it?”
“Hey, he’s not my watcher,” Spike blustered. “He didn’t even ask what was wrong with me. All he wanted to know was what it was like to turn into a bat every night.”
For the first time, Giles seemed to notice that Spike only had one arm visible.  “Were you injured while you were a bat?”
“Oh, now you’re curious,” Spike snorted. “Yeah. The ghoul that was trying to take out the Slayer swatted me out of the sky and broke my wing. Which turns out to be my shoulder when I’m not in bat form. Hurts like a bloody bastard, in case you’re interested.”
Giles turned to Buffy. “And what happened to you? Was this all part of the same incident?”
Buffy glanced at Spike, who shrugged and leaned back against a pile of mats. “You tell him, luv,” he said.
Buffy quickly recapped the evening’s events, starting with Spike’s attempts to distract the ghoul, and ending with the long, painful trek to Spike’s crypt. Having already understood that Spike had been in bat form, as well as seriously injured, Giles didn’t have the shocked response that Joyce did at hearing that Buffy spent the night on Spike’s couch. Instead, he questioned her about how she’d injured herself, and what still seemed damaged.
“After I did it, everything hurt. My back, my stomach, my ribs…. I could barely stand up or walk. I sort of hobbled with little baby steps, hunched over like an old lady. I was better this morning, and after a good, long, hot bath and some heavy-duty Tylenol, I thought I was fine. Until I tried to reach a plate on a high shelf.” Buffy rubbed her side as she remembered the stabbing pain. “Something in here is still not happy about throwing that statue.”
Giles nodded his head, frowning at the way she was holding her side. “No doubt you tore a large muscle in there. I suggest you take some more time to heal. And try to avoid tossing large statues.” He cleared his throat. “You should probably always have a sword with you anyway.”
He glanced back at Spike. “As should you, I suppose. I see you brought one with you.”
Spike rolled his eyes and Buffy giggled. “Giles, when Spike is a bat, he doesn’t weigh as much as a stake—never mind a sword! And he can’t fly now, so all he can do is sit on my shoulder and try to tell me if he hears or smells something.”
“Or sees something,” Spike put in. “Vampire night sight is good, but when I’m a bat, it’s like I’m seeing and hearing a whole new world.”
“Interesting…. “ Giles scribbled again. “That could be very helpful for Buffy if there was only some way for you to communicate with her.” He stared at Buffy. “How do you communicate now?”
Buffy shrugged. “He can understand me, so he can nod ‘yes’ or shake his head ‘no’. And sometimes, when he’s really mad, I can tell he swearing. “ She giggled at Spike, who smirked at her.
Giles turned to Spike. “If you two could work out some sort of system of communication, it could be quite useful to Buffy to have eyes and ears in the air, so to speak.”
Buffy and Spike exchanged a long look. He quirked up one eyebrow at her. “Up to you, luv. It’s not like either one of us is going to be taking on anything tonight. We could work on a system of some sort.”
“I guess we could. I told Mom I’d bring you home with me so she could see what a cute little bat you are and not be worried that we spent the night together.”
“Together?” Giles looked back and forth between as Buffy stammered and tried to explain while Spike roared with laughter.
“Not together, together!  I mean he was a bat! I just meant that she was all ‘why did you spend the night with Spike?’ and I tried to explain that I couldn’t come home because I couldn’t move without crying, and that Spike wasn’t as big as my hand, and he was a bat with a broken wing, so my virtue wasn’t in any danger, and….” Buffy ran out of breath, shooting a glare at Spike, who was still laughing.
“Ah,” Giles said, also glaring at Spike who subsided to silent tiny smirk. “Indeed. You were perfectly safe from the big bad vampire…bat.” He gave a sigh.  “And will be again tonight, I presume, unless Willow and Tara have had better success than I at coming up with a counter spell.”
“Exactly. Not to mention the chip and his broken shoulder—not that I’d use that against him unless he was trying to kill me, but he’s pretty harmless now too. Just not as cuddly.”
“Speaking of harmless,” Giles said, reaching for his notes. “Does the chip not work when you are a bat?”
Spike blinked. “Got no bloody idea, do I? I eat bugs when I’m a bat, except when the Slayer pours blood into a bowl for me. It’s not like I’ve got a death wish and started trying to bite humans while she was around.”
“So, you don’t know then?”
“We can try to find out tonight while we’re working on learning to communicate. He’s bound to get mad at me for something, and he can try to bite me,” Buffy threw out casually.
Both men stared at her with mouths agape and eyes wide.  Spike recovered first, purring, “Could do that any time you want to, Slayer. I’ll wager if you ask me to do it, the chip might not even care….”
Sending Spike a threatening look, Giles said, “That’s a terrible idea, Buffy! What if it turns out he can bite?”
She frowned at both of them. “Then you’ll have an answer to your question. Sheesh, Giles.  It’s not like a teeny little bat is going to hurt me. And if he did try to really hurt me, I’d smack him down and break his other wing!”
“Meanwhile,” Spike said, “do me a favor and keep looking for some way to break this bloody curse. I don’t fancy spending the rest of my life being a flying rodent for half of it.”
“Yes, yes. We’ll continue to work on it. In the meantime, I should like very much to observe the transformation myself. Perhaps I will notice something that—”
“Bugger!” Spike said, just before his clothes collapsed onto the floor, leaving a small, snarling bat under them.
“Too late!” Buffy said, lifting the shirt up as carefully as possible in case Spike’s wing was caught in it.  Which is was, so she just held it up until he managed to crawl out using only his left wing.
“He said something just before he transformed. What was it?”
“I think he said ‘bugger”. Maybe he felt it coming on?” She knelt down near Spike and asked, “did you know it was going to happen?”
He nodded against the hand she was reaching out, snuggling into it as she lifted him from the floor and set him on the top of a pile of mats. She set him down gently, stroking his fur when he made squeaky little complaining noises.
“Well, that’s new, I think. Maybe it’s starting to wear off? If he can tell when it’s going to happen, maybe he can learn how to stop it.” Buffy looked at Giles for his thoughts.
He nodded. “Also an avenue to approach if we don’t have more success breaking the spell. It may turn out to be something he has control over, as Dracula himself appears to have. It’s possible he’s given Spike a new skill, just not let him in on how to utilize it properly.”
“That could be pretty cool, Spike,” Buffy said with enthusiasm. “Think about it! You could ride around on my shoulder until there was something to fight, then transform back to a vampire and help me kick butt. You’d be like my secret weapon!”
A tiny bat snort was the only reply.
Buffy picked him up again, being careful not to jostle his broken wing now that it wasn’t being held in place by anything. “We can work on that while we’re figuring out how to communicate while you’re a bat.”
She set him on her shoulder and waited until she felt his little claws grasping the fabric. “Is that going to work? Can you hang on with only one wing?”
He gave one of his nods, but squeaked until she frowned and looked around. “What? What are you squealing about?”
“Perhaps he wants you to take his clothes?”
“What? Oh, no. The idea is that he can leave something to wear any place he might need to have it. So, these will be his Magic Box clothes. Just put them in the weapon closet or somewhere he can find them if he has to change here. I’m going to collect some more tonight or tomorrow to leave at my mom’s and maybe your apartment. Any places he might find himself stuck until morning.”
She picked up the sword Spike had used to get through the tunnels safely, and said, “I’ll take this with us, though. Just in case.” She frowned at the way Spike was clinging to her shoulder, which didn’t seem very stable as he was clearly protecting the broken wing.  “Maybe we should hold that wing down somehow? I think it really helped that his bad shoulder was inside a tight tee shirt all day. I’ll bet it would be good for the wing too. What do you think, Spike?”
He nodded against her face and huddled close to her neck.
“Not only is that probably an excellent idea, but it would probably be better for helping that wing…or shoulder… to heal if it was not only immobilized, but if he wasn’t risking jostling it by trying to hold on to you. Wait here a moment.”
Leaving them in the training room, he disappeared into the shop, returning soon with scissors, an Ace bandage, and a small box. “Let’s try this, shall we?” When Spike clearly growled at his approach, Giles handed the bandage material to Buffy. “Here. It seems he isn’t as tame as he appears,” he sniffed as though offended by the bat’s rejection.
Buffy took Spike off her shoulder and set him back on the mats. She took the scissors and cut a small strip of bandage. “Okay, Spike. I’m going to try to wrap your wing. If it hurts or I make it too tight, just say something.”
He gazed at her, his bright little eyes so full of trust that it made her uncomfortable. She bit her lip and carefully tried to strap his injured wing against his body without interfering with his use of the left one. Which turned out to be tricky, as the wings were attached to almost his entire little torso. She made one wrap around his lower abdomen, then decided it would be better to wrap it up and over his good shoulder. She frowned, then smiled at him in what she hoped looked like a reassuring fashion, as she brought the stretchy bandage around, up, and over again until she felt it was secure enough to tie off.
“Is that okay? It isn’t too tight is it?” Buffy tried to slip a finger between the fabric and his soft lower belly, flinching when he gave a little squeak.  “I’m sorry! Did that hurt?”
Bat-Spike shook his head vigorously and Buffy was suddenly reminded of his gasp when she’d brushed the skin of his stomach that morning when he was in his normal form. She flushed and pulled her finger away.
“Sorry,” she muttered. “I didn’t think….”
He looked up and nudged her hand gently.
“Does that mean it’s okay? You aren’t mad at me?”
He nodded, and Buffy looked at Giles with excitement.  “We communicated! Now I know how he says okay!”
Not having a clue what Buffy apologized for, and assuming it had to do with causing Spike pain, Giles smiled his agreement. “It’s a beginning,” he said. “Yes, no, and ‘it’s all right’ are a good start. Perhaps, as you experiment this evening, you will find ways for him to communicate important things that can warn you of dangers.”
“Like the bat version of ‘Duck’!” Buffy laughed, but Giles just nodded his head. “Exactly!”
Spike gave a short squeak, waited, then repeated it until Buffy said, “Is that ‘duck’?” He nodded and she beamed at him. “You can talk! I just need to learn the words you’re using.” Her smile faded. “I kind of suck at languages… this might be harder than I thought.”
Giles shook his head. “I shouldn’t think so. You’ve had no trouble picking up on his physical cues, and it’s not like you’ll be having lengthy conversations. A few more simple sounds like that one should be all you’ll need. Perhaps, when Spike is in his own form, you and he can work out a small vocabulary of sounds with meaning.”
“I guess that’s our cue to head for Mom’s to show her how harmless Spike is as a bat—” There was a tiny growl from Spike, who was glaring at her from his place on the mats.  “Get over it,” she said, smiling to take the sting out of her words. “You’re not dangerous and you’re not even scary. You’re just adorable and harmless.” She stroked a finger across his head in what she hoped was a soothing manner.
Spike’s response was to nip at her finger with his tiny fangs, causing her to wince, but not drawing blood.
“He bit me!”  She glared at the little creature staring at her defiantly. “I guess that answers your chip question, Giles.”
“So it seems,” he said thoughtfully. “So it seems….” Shaking himself and muttering, “something else to worry about,” he handed Buffy the small box, which she could now see was a sort of wooden cage. “I’d suggest you carry him in this if you can. There is less chance of something happening to him than if he is clinging to your clothing with only one ‘hand’.”
“It’s a cage, Giles!”
“And he is, temporarily or not, a wild animal. A crippled wild animal and unable to defend himself or even to avoid danger. I’m sure he’ll be fine with it.”
He avoided looking at Spike, whose glittering blue eyes, and muttered squeaks were making it obvious exactly how not fine he was with the idea of being in a cage, but when he tried to walk across the mat and lost his balance, saved from a fall only by Buffy’s slayer speed, he stopped complaining and with a sigh, allowed Buffy to place him in the box with bars and a roof. He hunkered down in one corner and refused to look at either one of them.
Buffy rolled her eyes at his behavior, but carefully picked up the cage and walked toward the exit.
“We’ll come back tomorrow and tell you what we’ve worked out.”
Chapter #3 - Chapter 5 and 6
“Are you going to pout all night?” Buffy asked as they walked into her house. “’Cause that’s not going to be very helpful, you know.”
There was an almost inaudible sigh from the cage, then a small squeak that sounded almost apologetic.
“Did you just say ‘sorry’?” There was no answer, but she thought he probably had nodded. “Okay, then. I’m sorry it looks like a cage, but there’s no actual door on it, and I wouldn’t lock it if there was, and you’re a lot safer there than you would be on my shoulder. I think it’s a good idea until you can fly again.”
There was no reply to that either, as Joyce walked out of the kitchen to greet them.
“Is that Spike? Why is he locked in a cage?”
“It is. And he isn’t locked in a cage, he’s just sitting in something that makes it easier to carry him while he can’t fly. It’s for his own protection.” Buffy didn’t need to translate the sounds coming from the cage, but growled back at him. “It is for you. Quit being such a baby about it.”
She set the box down on the coffee table and watched as Spike maneuvered his way out of the opening and onto the table.  He glanced up at Joyce and emitted a string of squeaks that had her asking Buffy, “What is he saying?”
“Um… I’m going to go with ‘hello’,” she said. “Since I can’t patrol for at least another day, we’re going to work on teaching me enough bat language that Spike will be able to communicate with me while we’re patrolling together.”
“Is he going to stay a bat?” Joyce peered closely at the furry little creature that looked nothing like the vampire she thought she knew. Except for the bright blue eyes that met hers with a surprising amount of warmth.
Buffy glanced at Spike and shrugged. “We don’t know. Giles and Willow and Tara are working on a way to break the spell, or lift the curse, or whatever it is that Drac did to him. And Spike’s going to work on trying to control it. Giles thinks maybe he will be able to change when he wants to if he can figure out how to do it.”
“So, he’s stuck like this?” Joyce stared at Spike with sympathy, but showed no inclination to pet him as Buffy was doing.
“Only at night. When the sun comes up, he’s himself again. I guess while we’re both too beat up to fight, we’re going to spend our time teaching me bat – or Spike’s version of bat, anyway. And maybe trying to figure out a way to teach him to control the change.”
By the time they’d had dinner and Joyce had relaxed enough to be comfortable around the little furry creature now sitting on Buffy’s shoulder again, they were all sitting in the living room and listening to Spike’s attempts to communicate. She’d handed Buffy a paper and pen, saying, “Why don’t you write down what you already know? That way, you’ll be able to study when Spike’s not around.”
After some time spent watching them getting steadily more frustrated as Spike tried to teach Buffy more complicated things than just “duck!” and “sorry”,  Joyce put a hand to her head. “I think this is giving me a headache,” she said. “I’m going to go to bed now.  Will you and Spike be staying here tonight?”
Remembering Spike’s lack of attire when changing back, Buffy smothered a laugh and said, “No, I have to take him back to his crypt before he changes back. If it’s not too late, I’ll come home, but if it is, I’ll probably just crash on his couch again. We need to work together tomorrow too, so we can work out a system while we’re both able to talk.”
“Well, he’s welcome to stay here,” Joyce said. “The basement will be nice and dark in the daytime, and then you won’t have to worry about food.”
“Spike’s food is in his crypt, Mom. He drinks blood, remember?” Seeing the expression on her mother’s face, Buffy sighed. “But, okay. I’ll just take him home and come back here. We can work in his crypt tomorrow.”
Wearing a more satisfied expression, Joyce wished them both a good evening studying bat, and took herself upstairs to bed.
“I guess she still doesn’t want me sleeping in your crypt, even when you’re just a cute little bat. I wonder what she’s so worried about? Are you rolling your eyes at me?”
Bat-Spike just nuzzled her neck until she realized how much she was enjoying it and pushed him away gently. “Okay, fine. I get it. She doesn’t want me waking up with a naked vampire in the room. But you’re a bat right now. And bats can’t… I mean you wouldn’t….” She paused, remembering his squeak when she’d put her finger under the lower part of his bandage. “Oh!” She blushed and looked away from him.  “Please tell me I didn’t accidentally touch anything I shouldn’t have!”
Spike gave a series of very different sounding squeaks, which she soon realized was laughter.
“I did? No. I would have noticed. I didn’t touch any…. did I?”
He stopped laughing long enough to shake his head.
“Are you sure I didn’t?”  He stared at her until she giggled and looked away. “Yeah, I guess you’d have noticed, huh?
He gave a very un-bat-like snort of agreement.
“So, what was the problem? Don’t you like it when I pet you? I mean, it seems like you do sometimes, and it calms you down, but then other times….” She exhaled in frustration. “I guess this is one of those conversations we need to have when you can talk, huh?”
He nodded again, moving closer to her neck and face. He began nuzzling her again, licking her earlobe with his tiny tongue, and breathing softly against her skin. Buffy caught herself relaxing into what he was doing, even as she felt it all the way down to body parts she hadn’t expected.  With a start, she realized that the furry little creature at her neck was turning her on, and she gasped. At the sound of her sudden inhalation, Spike stopped what he was doing and moved away from her neck and ear.
Buffy took another deep breath, then looked at him from the corners of her eyes. “Were you trying to tell me why you make me stop sometimes?” He nodded slowly, visibly wary of how she was going to react. He gave a tiny sigh of relief when she didn’t try to hide her embarrassment but expressed no anger.
“Okay. I get it. I’m sorry. It just never occurred to me that a bat might get turned on by being petted….” She thought back to when she’d been nuzzling into his belly before he’d bolted away. She gasped again. “Oh my god! The other night, I was… I didn’t mean to…. Okay. No more petting the cute little furry bat.  I promise.” She could feel the heat from her flushed face as the memory sank in.
Spike made a sound that could only be interpreted as a sad sigh. She thought about how much she enjoyed petting his soft fur, and how much he seemed to enjoy it, almost purring at times.
“Maybe… If I just stick to petting your back, and you stick to just nodding yes or no against my chin, maybe we don’t have to stop the petting completely. I don’t want to make you uncomfortable, but I… I kinda like doing it. I’ll miss it if I can’t pet you.”
His nod against her chin and accompanying soft chirps sounded like he was saying he’d miss it too.
“Okay then. That’s the plan. I’ll pet you more carefully, and you’ll let me know if I need to stop.” She sighed. “I think we made a lot of progress on language tonight. Maybe I should get you home. You can work on trying to control the change there, where if it works, you won’t be traumatizing my mother or sister.”
He nodded his agreement and waited for her to put him into the cage. She’d placed some crumpled fabric in it to give his claws something to hang on to, and to give him a softer place to sit. When he was all set, she picked up her sword and walked out into the night, neither of them giving a second thought to her comment about having a sister.
The walk to Restfield didn’t take long, and Buffy was soon pushing open the interior door and closing it behind her. She set Spike’s travel cage down on the top of a sarcophagus and watched as he climbed out and stretched his one good wing.
“I guess I don’t need to be here while you try to figure out how to change back and forth. Do you have any ideas about it?” 
He shook his head, his frustration visible.
“Well, think about how you felt when you knew you were about to be a bat again. Maybe, if you can remember what it felt like, you can make yourself feel like that again?  Like, right now, think about how you felt this morning before you woke up and were a vampire again. What were you doing or thinking about?”
Bat-Spike stared at her, his little blue eyes going wide with what could only be interpreted as panic.
“What? What were you thinking… or maybe dreaming… about?”
He shook his head as vigorously as he could without jostling his broken wing, but made no other attempt to try to explain.
“Fine. You can tell me tomorrow. It might be important, you know. Giles could probably help you figure it out—” 
An explosion of sound from Spike that sounded like a cross between bat laughter and vigorous denials did nothing to clear up the issue for Buffy, and she shrugged.
“Well, okay. If you don’t want me to help, I’ll just go home so mom doesn’t worry that you’re going to seduce me or something.”  As she spoke, Buffy was remembering how easily he’d turned her on by snuggling up to her neck, and she sent him a narrow-eyed glare.  “Just what were you dreaming about, Spike?”
He ignored her question, just going into his new little bed and curling up there. He refused to meet her eyes, doing nothing to dispel her suspicions about what he may have been dreaming when he regained his real body.
“We’re going to discuss this again tomorrow,” she said. The only response she got was a tiny bat-snore from his nest in the cage.
As it turned out, between helping her mom around the house and spending time with Riley, who had the day off, Buffy wasn’t able to get to Spike’s crypt while he was likely to still be able to have a conversation.
“Come on, I’ll drive you home before I go to work,” Riley said.
“That’s okay. I have to go by Restfield to check on Spike, so I’ll just walk home from there.”
“What’s to check? This whole business of becoming a bat every night is pretty shaky if you ask me. I mean, okay, Dracula is a real vampire. I believe that because I saw it with my own eyes, but the idea that he can change into a bat, never mind that he could curse Spike into becoming one is pretty hard to swallow. I think it’s just some kind of scheme on Spike’s part. Not sure what his game is exactly, or how he got a tame bat to pretend to be him, but I don’t believe it’s possible.”
“You don’t believe me?” Buffy stared at him, mouth open. “I saw it, Riley. Twice now. And Giles saw it last night. One minute, it’s Spike, and then, poof! Nothing but a pile of Spike clothes and a teeny little bat.”
Riley looked up at the sinking sun. “Fine. I’ll just go with you to watch this amazing transformation. I’m sure I’ll notice something you’ve missed. Some kind of sleight-of-hand on his part that makes it look like he turned into a bat when he really just hid somewhere.”
Buffy shook her head, but gave up, muttering, “You’ve seen what Willow can do, you’ve been in Sunnydale for over a year, you know what my life is like… I don’t know why you’re so confused about this.” She didn’t speak again as Riley drove them to Restfield. When he pulled up near Spike’s crypt, she said, “Wait here,” and jumped out without explanation.
She was grateful she had, as upon opening the door, she found a naked vampire staring at her in surprise. Buffy threw a glance over her shoulder to see that the sun wasn’t quite down yet, and that Riley had disobeyed and was striding toward them.
“Bat! Now!” she said frantically. She was happily surprised to find that, by the time Riley pushed into the crypt, there was no sign of Spike, and a small bat was on the floor. She gave a sigh of relief, and knelt to scoop up the bat and place him near his cage. She could feel the rumbling growls coming from his little body and whispered, “I’m sorry. I tried to keep him out.” Bat-Spike didn’t reply, but stopped growling and curled up in his nest. She was happy to see that the broken wing seemed much better, although obviously not strong enough for Spike to fly.
“Where is he?” Riley demanded, ignoring the small mammal glaring at him and searching the room for Spike the vampire.
“He’s right here, Riley. He changed just as you came in the door. See, there are his clothes.”
She gestured toward Spike’s jeans, which were some distance away from where he’d actually been standing when she came in, but Riley wouldn’t be able to know that. Especially since he refused to believe that Bat-Spike was actually Spike.
“That’s a bat, Buffy,” Riley explained as if to a child. “It’s cute, I suppose, and if you want to keep it, I won’t object to it.”
There was high-pitched sputtering from the cage, which almost drowned out Buffy’s own fairly high-pitched, “You won’t what it?”
“I won’t object to your keeping it as a pet. Although, I think you should take it home with you if your mother doesn’t mind. There’s no reason for you to keep coming here every night to pick it up. I’m sure it would be fine in your basement while you’re gone during the day.”
He looked around again, frowning when he could see no sign of Spike.
“Does Spike have a back door?” he asked, peering all around the crypt. Buffy deliberately kept her eyes away from the rumpled rug covering the trap door to the downstairs. “He must have a way to disappear when he knows you’re coming here to get the bat.”
“I’m sure he does,” Buffy said. “It’s called changing into a bat!” She walked to the door and held it open. “I think you should go now, Riley. Spike and I are going to meet with Giles and Willow and Tara to see if they’ve come up with a way to break the curse.  But since you don’t believe there is one, you obviously won’t want to waste your time there with us.”
He frowned at her curt dismissal, but shrugged and walked out. “I have to work tonight anyway,” he said. “I’ll see you tomorrow and we’ll talk about this.”
“Not if I see you first,” she muttered as she slammed the interior door. She could hear bat laughter sounds from Spike and turned to glare at him, then shook her head.  “I don’t know how you did it, but I’m really glad you were able to change before he saw I was walking in on you naked.”
Spike emerged from his box and shook himself. He squeaked at her and held out his wings, displaying his fur-covered body.  She frowned at him, then understanding dawned and she rolled her eyes.
“Yeah, yeah, you’re still naked. But now you have fur, and you’re tiny and cute. Riley wouldn’t have thought there was anything cute about a naked grown man—er, vampire—that I was willing to walk in on.” She looked at him more carefully. “Hey, you almost can hold the broken wing up. Is it all healed?”
He shook his head, allowing the damaged wing to droop again. Buffy held out her hand and he stepped onto it so she could bring him to her shoulder. He immediately cuddled up next to her neck and began to make little contented sounds.
She stroked his back with a finger, saying, “It’s probably a good thing he hasn’t seen this either. I don’t think he’d get that it’s okay for me to cuddle a bat that he thinks I think is you. Definitely wouldn’t think that was acceptable behavior on my part. Jackass!” she added, under her breath.
She felt him huff a tiny snort of laughter. “You weren’t supposed to hear that!” she said, then laughed at herself. “Which, was pretty stupid, considering the bat ears are right here.” He nodded against her chin, something she was finding herself looking forward to.
“So, did you change because I screamed at you, or did it just happen because it was so close to sunset?”
He didn’t answer her except to nudge the side of her neck, and she sighed. “Right, yes or no questions. Sorry! Did you change on your own?”
He nodded.
“You did? OMG. You can control it now?” She almost knocked him off in her excitement.
He shook his head ‘no’, growling his frustration at not being able to explain.
“Have you been trying?” A quick nod was his only response.
“Could you try again now?  I mean, not while you’re sitting on my shoulder, because… yeah naked full grown man on my shoulder just wouldn’t be a good look for me. But, if I put you down, can you try again?” 
He nudged her again, and pointed to the door with his good wing. Buffy frowned and stared at the door, then remembered that it should be dark out there by now.
“Oh yeah. It’s nighttime, so you have to be a bat. Well that sucks. I thought you’d learned how to be a bat and could learn how to go back to yourself.  I still think that would be pretty cool—you know, if you could be a bat when you come with me, and then if I need help, poof! there’s a big mean vampire backing me up.”
He nuzzled her neck and nodded his agreement, making the little squeak that she now knew meant ‘sorry’. But he sighed and shook his head ‘no’ when she plucked him off and set him on the table, asking him to try it. He pantomimed falling asleep, doing it several times before she figured it out he was saying he was too tired.
“Oh. Okay. I guess it must be hard work trying to change back and forth. I’m just glad it worked tonight. If Riley had actually seen that, he’d probably try to swat you.” She stroked his back and said softly, “I don’t think I’d like that. I’d miss you.” He purred and snuggled into her hand. “I guess you’re too tired to come with me tonight? I was planning to leave some of your clothes—at least a pair of jeans—any place you might end up waking up naked.” She peered around, seeing that there were some jeans and tee shirts beside a bag on the couch.
“Are those the extras?” She didn’t even wait for his nod, just scooped them into the bag and picked it up. “Okay, I’ll take these with me and—” She was interrupted by irate squeaking and chirping. “What? I thought you were too tired to come with me tonight.” Frantic headshaking and increased squeaking indicated his lack of interest in being left in his crypt and she sighed.
“Fine. You can come. But I can’t promise I’ll bring you home. You might end up having to stay with me… I mean at my mom’s! In the basement!” She picked him up and glanced at the cage she’d used yesterday. “Can you hang on well enough now to ride on me? On my shoulder!” Her face flushed with having to correct herself twice, she glared at his obvious enjoyment of her accidental double entendres. “Shut up!”
Still giving little chirpy chuckles, he pulled himself up her sleeve and settled into his place near her neck.
“Bats shouldn’t have such dirty minds,” she muttered as she walked out, swinging the bag of clothes. She shut both doors behind her. 
By a few weeks later, they had settled into a routine, one that sometimes required Spike to use the clothes Buffy had left for him at her house.
Usually, she picked him up for patrol, dusted any vamps that crossed her path, then took him back to his crypt or somewhere he had clothes stashed, before she went anywhere he wouldn’t be welcomed. Which often turned out to be on a date with Riley….
“You’re not planning to bring that damn bat with you again, are you?” Riley grumbled as the Scooby meeting was breaking up. “I want to go someplace decent for a meal.”
“Um… I hadn’t really thought about it. I didn’t know we were going out tonight, or I’d have left him with Mom and Dawn.”
“He can stay with me,” Giles said. “I have some translating to do tomorrow, and Spike’s help will be quite useful.”
Riley gaped at him. “Don’t tell me you think this is Spike, too?  Or do bats have some hidden talents I don’t know about?”
Everyone looked at Buffy, eyes wide as they realized that Riley really didn’t know it was Spike hanging from a bookshelf and glaring at him.  Buffy’s subtle head shake was enough to prevent any arguments or testaments to having seen the change from anyone still there, and she breathed a sigh of relief. By this time, Riley was so used to seeing her with the bat, even petting it from time to time, that she’d gone from being angry that he didn’t believe her, to hoping he never found out.
Giles finessed the answer surprisingly well, saying with a shrug, “I simply meant that I would be seeing Spike tomorrow, and as he is the bat’s other guardian when Buffy isn’t available, he can pick it up from me and take it home.”
Buffy didn’t bother to mention that ‘home’ for Bat-Spike had sometimes become her mother’s house. In spite of having had some issues with Dawn’s reaction to him as a bat. After Buffy noticed how uncomfortable Bat-Spike was when Dawn tried to cuddle him the way Buffy did, and Joyce caught her trying to open the basement door after she’d been told in no uncertain terms not to go down there when Spike might be sleeping, he had stopped spending the night there as often unless both Buffy and Joyce were going to be there. 
 He now had not only extra clothing and blood there, but an old extra pair of boots for use if he needed to take himself back to his crypt before he was a bat again. Both he and Buffy had long-since recovered from their injuries, so he was able to fly home after dark if he needed or wanted to.
“That sounds like a plan,” Buffy agreed quickly. She ignored the high-pitched muttering coming from the bat now hanging onto the back of the couch. “Let’s go, Riley. Giles will take care of Spike for me.”
While she no longer worried about Bat-Spike’s safety, she found she was just as willing as he was to pretend that there were good reasons for him to accompany her on patrol. Which proved true the night Buffy was jumped by several demons when, contrary to Giles’s advice, she was armed only with her stake. Spike had tried to warn her of a hidden danger, but the demons struck before she could see what it was or get away, and she was hard put to defend herself. When a swipe of a large paw knocked her to the ground, the bat’s high-pitched snarl suddenly became the more guttural and dangerous sounding snarl of a master vampire. The demons found themselves facing, not just an angry slayer, but a furious naked vampire clearly bent on destroying them. He’d already ripped the head off one demon before they’d even realized the fight dynamics had changed.
With only one demon left to face, Buffy put her stake in her waistband and used her fists and feet to show him what a bad idea it had been to ambush her. She left his body on the ground and turned to watch Spike take his time beating up the remaining demon. She could hear bits and pieces of the things he was snarling, but decided she was better off not hearing most of it. Things like “Try to kill my girl… no one touches the slayer when I’m around…” and other, more disturbing and at the same time, oddly warming, things.
When Spike finally realized he was beating a very dead demon, he stopped and shuddered all over before dropping to the ground with an angry squeal. Buffy rushed to pick him up, holding him carefully as he continued to tremble.
“Are you all right? How did you do that?”
He lay in her hands, breathing heavily and shivering, before rolling over and lifting his head. He nodded that he was okay, but gave a recognizable shrug when she repeated her question. After a few moments of rest, he shook himself and flew back to her shoulder, sitting there as if nothing had happened.
“That was amazing. And thank you,” she added. She assumed his chirp and nudge were bat for “you’re welcome”. “Wait till we tell Giles you’re learning to control it. He’ll be so excited!”
He twitched against her neck and made a small squeak of inquiry. Pleased with how well she was beginning to read him, Buffy responded to what she thought he’d said.
“Okay, yes. Telling him you were naked probably shouldn’t be included.” She sighed. “I don’t know why everybody is making such a big deal out of this. It’s not like I’ve never seen a naked man before—” There was a tiny growl then, and she sighed in exasperation. “Well, I have, Spike. As you know perfectly well. So, yes, as Anya might say, you are nice to look at, but it’s not like you have anything I haven’t seen before.” He gave another small growl and she rolled her eyes. “Oh my god, you do know I try not to be looking there, don’t you? I’m not playing any whose-is-bigger games for you, so just stop it.”
Ignoring the high-pitched muttering coming from her shoulder, she left the area they’d been patrolling and headed for Giles’s apartment complex. Her own muttering about testosterone poisoning and male animals just barely drowned out his complaints.
She frowned when they got to Giles’s apartment complex and there was a black SUV parked near the apartment.
“Huh? Is that Riley’s? I wonder what he’s doing here. I didn’t think he and Giles liked each other that much.” She thought hard for a few seconds, then sighed. “Just in case… why don’t you hang out in a tree or something until I find out what’s going on? If it’s safe to come in, I’ll come out and get you.”
The indignant reply didn’t require knowing how to speak bat, but Buffy interrupted him anyway. “Look, I know you’re all big and bad, but you’re also chipped when you’re a vamp, and you’re tiny and fragile now. I don’t want you to get hurt, okay?  Just do this for me… please?”
He continued grumbling, but snuggled up to her neck, nodding his head and nuzzling her. Buffy reached up and stroked his soft fur until he stopped muttering and was purring softly against her skin, licking her delicately with his tiny tongue.  
“I just want you to be safe, okay?”
With a teeny sigh, he nodded once more, then, leaving what felt like a bat-size kiss on her neck, he took off and disappeared into a leafy tree.  Buffy made note of which tree it was, then knocked on the apartment door before opening it and entering. She gave Riley a questioning look before turning to Giles. “I have something cool to tell you, but I guess it can wait.” Turning back to Riley, she was already asking “What’s up, Riley? Do you need me for something?”
As she finished speaking, she noticed the net he was trying to hide behind his back and she gaped at him before asking Giles, “Is that what I think it is?” He gave a nod, his expression and eyes telling her to be careful what she said.
“Riley? Is that a net? What were you planning to catch with it?” She glared at him, foot tapping, looking much more like an angry slayer than a college co-ed.
“There’s been an outbreak of rabies in Sunnydale,” he blustered. “And bats are known carriers, so I’m just being proactive and taking one out of the picture. I know he’s your pet, but you can’t risk public health by protecting him.”
“Spike is never anywhere he could encounter rabies,” she said through gritted teeth. “He’s either with me, or one of my friends, or in his crypt with the doors closed.” She wasn’t even sure that a bat that was really a vampire could even get a disease of warm-blooded mammals.
“I’m sure that crypt isn’t safe, and Spike—the real Spike—isn’t likely to worry about exposing the bat to rabies, so you really don’t know if he’s safe or not. And if the bat isn’t there, you don’t have any reason to be going there every night.”
“So, the real reason is, you’re what? Jealous of a small furry animal?” She bit off saying he was jealous of Spike, knowing that might lead to badness. “If you don’t like my pet, then just let me know when you’ll be around, and I’ll make sure to leave him with somebody who will keep him safe for me.”
“Buffy, you need to be reasonable about this. I think I’ve been more than tolerant of the amount of time and attention that bat gets. I told you I wouldn’t object to you keeping him, but I’ve changed my mind. Since he’s tame, maybe the animal shelter or the zoo would take him. Either way, you need to get rid of him. I’m tired of sharing you with…”
He waved his arms around. “With just about everything, if I’m honest,” he said finally. “Your mom, your sister, your friends, your ‘slaying’.” He made air quotes around slaying, and Buffy wasn’t sure she hadn’t heard Giles growl. “And now, this stupid pet bat that you named after the vampire you refuse to slay. Everything else in the world is more important to you than I am.” He finished, standing firmly with his arms crossed while Buffy blinked in shocked comprehension.
“You think you should come before my family” she asked in a register that almost rivaled Spike’s better squeaks. She took a deep breath and went on in a lower tone, “And, just as a reminder, a slayer’s job description includes saving the world from time to time. The whole world, not just the parts you approve of. And I do it when I have to, not when it’s convenient for you to do without me.”
She sighed and added, her voice much more gentle, “Riley, I don’t think we’re working out as well as we hoped we would. Being in a slayer’s life in any way, as a boyfriend or a friend, or even a relative, just isn’t the same as it is for most people. And it’s not something everybody can do. Hence my very small circle of real friends.”
“Buffy, I gave you a simple choice—me or the bat—how does that turn into a make or break situation?” Riley seemed genuinely confused. “I didn’t say you had to give up your friends and family, just the bat that you, for some reason, share with the vampire you’d be ‘dating if you wanted someone with super powers’.”
“It sounded pretty much like an ‘or else’ message to me,” Buffy said, refusing to acknowledge his reference to her own words. “It sounded like an ultimatum.” Looking very slayerly for a moment, she narrowed her eyes and said, “I don’t like ultimatums.”
“It sounded like that to me also,” Giles put in. The look on his face said it was against his better judgement to step in to what was essentially a lovers’ quarrel, but Buffy smiled. She knew he’d never been a fan of Riley and his insistence on having a scientific answer for everything. Riley’d never ceased referring to Spike as a “hostile” and to demons as “subterrestrials”, and his presence at Scooby meetings had often put a damper on what they could discuss with him there without getting into arguments.
Riley stood up even straighter, as if his height and military bearing would give his words more weight. “I’m your boyfriend, Buffy. Asking you to choose between me and a pet is hardly an ultimatum.”
“What would you call it? What if I choose my pet, Riley? Do you have a plan B for that, or were you just sure I’d choose you over anything else?”
“I assumed you would want me more than a flea-infested, flying rodent, but clearly I was wrong,” he said stiffly. He marched toward the door, net in hand. “You can’t keep him safe forever,” he said. “Bats don’t live very long. You’ll be sorry.” He slammed the door behind him.
“Did that sound like a threat?”
Giles shrugged. “I believe Spike needs to be very careful for a while. At least while he’s in bat form. Perhaps you should find him and tell him so, since he isn’t with you tonight.”
“Oh, he’s here. I told him to wait in a tree. I’m sure he heard every word with those bat ears. I just hope he has enough sense to stay in the tree until Riley leaves.” She went to the window, a worried look on her face, and watched as Riley’s big vehicle peeled out of the parking lot. As soon as it was out of sight, she opened the door and looked at the tree she’d told Spike to stay in.
“Come on in, Spike,” she called, frowning when he didn’t immediately appear. Just as she was becoming concerned, he flapped his way down to her shoulder where he chirped at her for quite a while.
“I don’t know what all that means, but let’s get inside in case Riley comes back.” She stepped in and closed the door.  “Did you hear him?” she asked. He nodded against her chin, then left her shoulder to hang on the curtain rod.
“I suspect you have an enemy, Spike,” Giles said. “And not just because he thinks you should have been staked last year. I think you’ll need to be quite cautious for some time. Particularly when you’re in bat form.”
“Why was Riley here, Giles? He knew I was going to be patrolling tonight, and he shouldn’t have expected to find me here.”
“I’m sure he wasn’t expecting it. He was hoping to enlist my assistance in ‘curing’ you of your affection for… erm… for Spike in bat form. It seemed wisest, given his current state of anger at him, not to belabor the truth of the matter. I suspect he would be even less understanding of any relationship you may have with Spike in his true form.”
“You have no idea,” Buffy said with a sigh. “Just because when I was trying to convince him to get that chip out of his heart before it killed him, I said something stupid about dating Spike if I wanted somebody with superpowers, he thinks that means I want to date Spike. He even offered to have an Army psychiatrist talk to me about my ‘thing for vampires’.”
Giles flicked his glance to Spike, but he was just hanging on the curtain rod, and then back to Buffy. He studied her face for a moment, but clearly decided not to comment upon the idea that she might have considered dating Spike. Instead, he tackled the subject at hand.
“So Spike may be in danger now even in his normal form. Assuming, of course, that all this bouncing back and forth between chipped vampire and unchipped bat hasn’t had any effect on his vulnerability. Perhaps we should check that out tomorrow.”
“Yeah, okay. I guess so. I’ll tell Spike to hit me or something and we’ll see if the chip’s still working.” Buffy frowned at the thought and glanced up to the curtain rod where Spike was being uncharacteristically quiet.
“And then you will have a very different, and perhaps even more difficult decision to make,” Giles said gently, sending an apologetic look at Spike.
“I’ll worry about that tomorrow.” Buffy’s tight lipped smile made it very clear the subject was closed.
“Quite. Well then, why did you two come here so early in the evening? Is something wrong?”
“Oh, no!” Buffy regained her animation. “We wanted to tell you—well, I wanted to tell you ‘cause Spike still can’t talk—that he’s making progress on controlling the change.” She told Giles about Spike almost being caught naked by Riley weeks ago, but being able to change when she shouted at him, and then she described the demon attack that she’d survived partly because when she was knocked down, Spike had been able to change into his fighting form and kill two of the demons.
“So, it’s kinda like what I said last week, except I was sort of kidding then about how cool it would be to have a secret weapon; but tonight he was a bat on my shoulder, and then when I needed him to not be a bat, he was Spike for long enough to kick demon butt. Then he was a bat again, but still, points for being able to do it in an emergency.”
“Indeed,” Giles said, sending Spike a speculative look. “And what sort of clothing was he wearing as he did all this demon-butt kicking?”
“Umm… well none, on account of bats don’t wear clothes. But there was nobody there to worry about it except the demons, and I don’t think they cared that the vampire that was beating them up wasn’t wearing clothes.”
“You were there also, were you not?”
Buffy blushed. “Well, yeah, but you know, I was kinda busy fighting, and he didn’t stay naked Spike very long.” She took a deep breath. “It was okay, Giles. I’m a big girl and Spike doesn’t seem to care if I see him naked, so we’re good. I’d rather have him naked and helping me, than get my butt kicked by big, stinky demons while he runs home for pants.”
Still silent, Spike glided down to sit on her shoulder, settling into his normal place next to her neck and nudging it gently.
“Excellent point,” Giles conceded, staring at Spike for any trace of a smirk, but the bat just blinked little blue eyes at him. “So, as of yet, he has only been able to hasten his change into a bat by a few moments, and change into his normal form at night only if he needs to fight. Do I have that correct?”
“Yep, pretty much that’s it. Both times it was an emergency of some sort. I asked him if he was able to do it when he’s by himself, but we haven’t had a chance to talk about it, so I don’t know.”
“I wonder if the common denominator is the urgency of the situation, or your presence there?” Giles gave Spike a speculative look, but only received another bland eye blink.
Buffy tried to smother her memory of the things she’d heard Spike saying while he beat on the demons and said, “Well, I mean me being there is what made them emergencies, isn’t it? Riley walking in on him naked wouldn’t have been that big a deal if I wasn’t with him. And it was me the demons were after tonight. I don’t think they would have paid any attention to a bat by itself.”
“So, if your safety is threatened, he can make the change. But he can’t do it on his own.”
“I don’t know that, Giles. I can’t talk to him yet. It could be just coincidence.” Mentally hoping she was right, she added, “I mean he’s always with me at night, most of the time. And in the daytime, I don’t even know if he could be a bat if he wanted to. I mean, yeah, he did it a few seconds before the sun went down, but maybe it wouldn’t have worked if it was noon. But then, at noon, he’d probably have his clothes on because he wouldn’t be expecting to be a bat in a few minutes, so he wouldn’t have taken his clothes off and it would have been okay if I walked in ‘cause Riley wouldn’t have any reason to be mad  that I was seeing Spike naked, and….” She ran out of air and stopped. “And I’m just going to stop babbling now.” She sighed, and absently stroked Spike who was snuggled into her neck in what had become his normal position when they were together at night.
“You are babbling. What might be making you so nervous, if it isn’t seeing Spike naked on a regular basis? Or that I now know it happens fairly often?” He shot Spike another piercing look, but again, met only calm blue eyes blinking slowly.
“It’s not on a regular basis! Sheesh, Giles. So, it’s happened a couple of times, and this time it was at night, in a cemetery. So what? If it doesn’t bother Spike, it shouldn’t bother anybody else… except maybe my mom. I don’t think she was very happy to know Dawn was living in a house where there might be a naked man in the basement. I already warned them not to go downstairs without telling him they were coming if he’s staying at our house for some reason, but Dawn doesn’t always listen to me.”
“What are your plans for the rest of the evening then?”
Buffy frowned. “Well, we didn’t really get very far with the patrol. We came straight here after the demon fight. I guess I’ll hit a few more cemeteries, and then take Spike home. Or maybe home with me,” she added. “Just in case Riley’s going to do something really stupid.”
“Something you may need to be prepared for,” Giles said, more sympathetically than she would have expected. “Hiding him at your mother’s house is, at best, a temporary solution. I feel sure Spike isn’t going to be willing to give up his normal activities to hide indefinitely.”
Spike’s answering squeals confirmed Giles’s thoughts, and they both laughed at his indignant reaction of the idea of hiding from Riley.
“Well, right now, his normal activities are being a bat and patrolling with me every night, so he’ll just have to suck it up for a while. He’s got a TV in his crypt, and my mom lets him use her TV if he tapes Passions for her, so he’s got things to do in the daytime if he has to stay there.”
Chapter #4 - Chapters 7 and 8
The rest of the patrol was uneventful. Buffy staked the few fledgling vampires she found and then began walking home.  Spike gave a little squeak of inquiry and she responded as if he’d asked a real question.
“I think you’ll be safer at my house,” she said. “Mom’s not there tonight, she’s in LA on a buying trip and Dawn’s staying at Dad’s while they’re there. But I’ll be home, so if Riley tries to do something he’ll live to regret…. well, he won’t be able to do anything that stupid, because you’ll be with me all night. And if I think I have to, I’ll just stay home tomorrow.”
Spike squeaked something again and nibbled on her neck, pretending to be biting her jugular.
“What the hell are you—Oh, is this your way of reminding me there’s no blood at my house?”
He nibbled some more and she twitched her shoulder. “Except for me. I got it. Stop trying to chew on me! We’ll go by your crypt and get your blood.”
He licked her apologetically and nodded his approval. Reluctant to admit how much she liked his licking, Buffy muttered, “You must think you’re a dog or something with all the licking.”
She felt his little chuckle, and had some idea what his accompanying chirps meant. “Did you just say something piggy? You did, didn’t you?”
His only reply was another quick lick, followed by some aerial acrobatics that had her laughing as they approached the crypt. Only to find the doors both standing open. “Didn’t we close those?” Buffy muttered, shrinking behind a large bush. There was an answering growl from Spike. They watched for a few seconds, but there was no sign of life. Suddenly, Spike took off, almost invisible against the dark sky and trees. He ignored Buffy’s hissed, “What are you doing?” and swooped down into his crypt.
Growling under her breath, and calling him every kind of moron she could think of, Buffy approached cautiously and peered in the door. To her surprise, there was a faint light coming from a small flashlight that was lying on the floor. And Spike was sitting next to it, caught in a net that had apparently dropped over him. Buffy grabbed the flashlight and shined it around the room, ignoring for the moment, Spike’s indignant squeaking that was reaching inaudible levels as she walked past him to look around more. As she bent to light a candle, another net dropped down onto her head, causing her to swear and tear at it. The net clearly wasn’t meant to hold an adult human, never mind an angry slayer, and she was soon out of the tattered pieces.  Focusing the flashlight’s small beam on the ceiling, she noted two more pieces of netting dangling precariously over the fridge and the couch.
She grabbed a sword from the weapon closet and slashed them both down, then turned her attention to Spike, who was still swearing in bat.
“Calm down,” she said as she lifted the netting off him. “I’m letting you out.” She sighed and glanced around the room. “I guess Riley doesn’t know I usually walk in here with you when I bring you home. Those nets wouldn’t hold anything much larger than you.”
High-pitched bat snarling was the only response for some time, as Spike flew around the crypt checking out his belongings. Buffy finished lighting a few candles and turned the flashlight off before going to the doors and shutting them. She put Spike’s rarely used bar across the inside door before walking back to the fridge to see how much blood was there. She counted the bags, saying, “Guess we need to get some more tomorrow. Probably should start keeping more in Mom’s freezer, just in case. Meanwhile, let’s take these with us.”
She started to put the blood packets into a bag, only to have Spike land on her shoulder, shaking his head.
“Why not? You can’t stay here! And I want to get some sleep tonight. I’ll take care of Riley tomorrow, but I need to know that you’re going to be safe.” Spike flew from her shoulder to his trap door and back, waiting for her to acknowledge what he was saying. “No, you can’t stay down there. You’re just as vulnerable there as you are up here. You’re coming home with me, and that’s it. Do you have clothes at Mom’s?”
He shook his head and again pointed downstairs. “Okay, we’ll go down and get something for you to wear tomorrow, but then we’re going to my house where you’ll be safe and I can sleep peacefully without worrying about you.” He gazed at her with his surprisingly expressive little eyes, then nuzzled her neck, leaving little bat kisses on it. Telling herself it was no more inappropriate than any other pet that might be cuddly and licky, she smiled and pulled the rug off the trap door. As soon as she opened it, he flew into the dark hole, and she followed down the rickety ladder/stairs holding a candle in one hand. She used it to light another once she was down, then gazed around.
“Whoa!” she exclaimed as she saw the big four-poster bed with red linens and a black comforter on it. Her gaze went to the matching dresser with a mirror she knew he couldn’t use, and a chest of drawers. A bookcase against one of the dirt walls contained several shelves of books, as well as a row of what appeared to be music tapes. The mud floor was covered in soft oriental rugs, and one of the walls was also concealed behind heavy drapery.
“No wonder you’d rather be here! I almost think I’d rather be here than in my basement.” The whole large area was surprisingly neat, only an extra pair of boots by the bed to clutter the floor. Buffy walked over to the bed and sat on it, bouncing slightly to test its softness. “Tempting….” she said as she stretched out on it. “If you had a bathroom, we could just stay here. No Mom at home to worry about where I spent the night.”
Spike flew to the bed and curled up next to her, purring with a high pitched hum. She stroked his fur absently as she sent her gaze over the ceiling and walls. “I was just kidding, you know. I’m human. I need a bathroom, and lights, and my stuff. This is all your stuff. And it’s very nice stuff,” she added as he growled softly. “But I like my own stuff, and it’s all at my house.” He whined and bumped her hand with his nose when she stopped petting him.  “Come on, let’s get you some clothes to wear tomorrow. I can pet you at my house too.”
Giving a tiny sigh, he flew to the dresser and waited there for her. Buffy rolled off the admittedly comfortable bed, and walked over to start opening drawers. She took out two tee shirts from the first drawer, which seemed to contain dozens of the exact same black tee, and a pair of black jeans from the bottom drawer. Adding socks and the boots to the stack, she blew out the candles and started back up the ladder, using the light from the candles left burning up there to guide her. Spike flapped his way past her and was waiting by the door when she got up.
“Easy there, batboy,” she said. “I need to close this up.” She looked around and grabbed the old rug, putting it over the door. “I guess if Riley was already in here, he could have noticed it, but if he didn’t, this might keep him from finding it.” She put out the remaining candles, carrying one of them all the way to the door before blowing it out and setting it down just inside. “I guess we can’t keep anybody out if we’re not here to bar the door, but—what?”  Spike circled the room, squeaking in what she recognized as frustration.  She shook her head, and lifted the duffle carrying his clothes and blood. “Come on. You can tell me what you’re yelling about tomorrow when you can talk again.” She walked out and waited until he was on her shoulder, still muttering, before shutting both doors tightly.
They reached Buffy’s home without incident and were soon settled on the couch in front of the TV. Buffy yawned and stretched. “I’m going to get ready for bed, see if you can find a good movie. If you can’t, I’m just going to sleep. I’ll leave the door to the basement open so you can go down there whenever you want to.”
She came down a little later, pajamas on, teeth brushed, and ready for bed. She found Spike sitting on the remote and clearly glaring at her. “Oops! I forgot you can’t change channels. Sorry!” Her apology was accompanied by a giggle, so the glare only lasted until she’d sat down and clicked through until she found a Bruce Lee movie. “Here, want to watch this? There might be bloodshed involved.”
She leaned into the corner of the couch, making a little dent in the pillow for him to land in without even thinking about what she was doing. They settled in to watch the old movie, Buffy’s thumb moving back and forth over Spike as he nestled quietly against her.
Buffy dozed off, waking up in the wee hours to find the TV still on and Spike sleeping on her chest, his little claws hooked to the fabric of her pajamas so he wouldn’t fall off. His back rose and fell slowly with her breathing and she found it very soothing to have his little warm body lying on her, his nose touching her collarbone. She stroked his soft warm back, enjoying the vibration from his purring until she realized what it was, and that he was awake. With a whispered, “Sorry”, she turned on her side so she could reach the remote to turn the TV off.
Rather than moving away from her as she’d expected him to, Spike just snuggled into his normal place next to her neck, clearly prepared to go right back to sleep. With a sigh, she held him in her hand long enough to nuzzle his little chest, then set him down on the couch and sat up. “I’m going to finish the night in my own bed,” she said, wondering why she felt she needed to explain or apologize to Spike. “I’ll open the basement door for you, ‘k?”
His ears drooped and he made squeaky little complaining noises, but he nodded and gave his “ok” nudge to her hip. “You’ll be fine,” she said. “You’re a big boy—bat—and can sleep by yourself just fine.” She stood up, then bent down and kissed him on his furry little head. “Good night, Spike,” she said. “See you in the morning. Watch out for the sun coming in these windows.”
She walked to the kitchen, opened the basement door, and then went upstairs without going back into the living room.  After a quick visit to the bathroom, she got into her own bed and was asleep again within minutes.
When Buffy awoke in the morning, she almost expected to find Spike snuggled into her neck. She was sure she hadn’t been dreaming when she felt him crawl into bed with her, but laughed at herself for thinking he’d still be there.
“Even if he did, he couldn’t be here now that the sun is up,” she assured herself. “If he’d stayed here long enough to change, I’d have noticed.”
“You sure about that, pet?”
Buffy shrieked, sat up, and stared at the barely-clothed man standing near her closet. Spike was laughing at her, wearing nothing but his loosely zipped jeans hanging on his hips. In spite of herself, Buffy almost licked her lips at the sight of his torso disappearing into the denim. She quickly went on the attack, beginning with scolding herself for thinking out loud and moving on quickly to scolding Spike for being in her bedroom and barely dressed.
“You… what? When? How? How did I not—You’re dust, Spike!”
“Relax, Slayer. I’d already moved to your closet before I changed. Had to run downstairs to get my kit, but your virtue’s intact. You spent the night snuggling with a bat, not a naked man.”
“You were supposed to go to the basement!” she said, for lack of any better comeback.
“Didn’t want to,” he said softly, his laughter gone. “I like sleeping with you. And as long as I’m harmless….”
“What if the curse suddenly broke and you were you again? Then you would have been in my bed… naked! Did you even think about that?”
“Trust me, love, some nights that’s all I think about….” Obviously reading the look on her face, he added, “Probably more than you wanted to know, yeah?” He turned away and picked a shirt up from the floor. He still hadn’t looked at her as he pulled it on and fastened his jeans. “I’ll just be downstairs warming up my blood while you get dressed.”
Buffy stared at the now-empty doorway, mulling over what she’d just learned about Spike and why he was so cuddly as a bat.  And, if she was being honest, what she was learning about herself and what seemed to be a growing attraction to him, even when he wasn’t a bat. She got up and headed for the bathroom to shower away her inappropriate thoughts.
Buffy took her time getting dressed and joining Spike downstairs. He was calmly drinking his second mug of blood, as indicated by the two empty containers on the counter. She absently grabbed them and dropped them into the trash. After realized Spike had apparently made coffee, she got down a mug for herself. She filled her mug, still without saying anything, and sat on a stool. They stayed on opposite sides of the kitchen island, silently drinking their excuses for not talking, and carefully avoiding each other’s eyes. When both mugs were empty and soaking in the sink, she turned to him only to be interrupted before she could speak.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I didn’t mean to hit you with it like that. I know you think you’re just cuddling your new pet, but I never forget who or what I really am. And it turns out I’m becoming pretty addicted to being that close to you. Want it pretty much all the time now.”
Buffy started to speak, stumbled, then cleared her throat. “I… I think I was kind of starting to get that. So, I guess that makes me the one who should be apologizing, doesn’t it? I mean, I don’t mean to be…but I know I am… and….” She met his eyes for the first time since his confession, not sure what she was looking for there. What she saw made her look away again. She heard him take a deep breath, then blow it out.
“Yeah. Well. Guess we need to figure out what we do now, don’t we? Suppose the watcher might allow me to hide out there for a bit. Once the big hayseed doesn’t see us together anymore, he should get over his need to end my little batty existence.”
Buffy tried not to sound as dismayed as she felt. “I guess that would work,” she said slowly. “If that’s what you want to do….”
“Isn’t that what you want? It’s not like we can go back to oblivious Buffy and her snuggly little pet bat, is it? I don’t see you forgetting what you now know.”
“I don’t want to give you up!” she blurted.  “And I don’t mean just when you’re a bat. But, I know that’s not fair to you, so if you want—”
“What I want,” he said, suddenly in her space and close enough to touch, “is to take you back upstairs and make love to you until the sun goes down and I’m just a harmless bat again. That’s what I want. But I know I can’t have it, so the smart thing is just to stay away from you as much as I can.” He reached a hand to her face and cupped her cheek. “I think I’m falling in love with you, Buffy Summers. And that’s not gonna be good for either one of us.”
Buffy found herself blinking suddenly damp eyes. Before she thought it through, she surged toward him and fastened her lips on his, hoping briefly that the coffee had removed all traces of morning breath. He gave a quick, surprised twitch, then banded his arms around her and returned the kiss in spades. Although she knew him to be a good kisser from Willow’s spell last year, those public noisy displays of affection and lust were nothing like what she was feeling now.
In addition to the strong arms around her, holding her to a muscular body that she tried very hard—but with little success—not to compare to Riley’s, the incredibly soft and talented lips on hers carried a message she couldn’t deny. There was desire, and lust, for sure. But there was also a yearning need that she had to admit called to something in her in a way Riley’s kisses never had.
When several minutes of kissing had left her weak-kneed and gasping for air, they tore their lips apart and Spike pressed his forehead to hers. “Bloody hell, love. Give a bloke a bit of warning next time, yeah? I’m too gobsmacked to give you the attention you deserve.”
“I’m not feeling all that deprived right now,” she whispered, barely able to talk properly. “I think you did all right.”
“Tried to bring my A game, but I promise I can do better,” he said with a relieved laugh.
“We’ll see about that, bragger,” she said, holding up a hand for patience as she went on. “But maybe not till after I have breakfast. I think I’m going to need all my energy.” She blushed at her own boldness, but his warm chuckle kept her from feeling embarrassed.
“Breakfast it is,” he said, pulling out a stool for her. “Coming right up.”
Buffy watched with amusement and surprise as he pulled a package of Eggo waffles from the freezer and popped two of them in the toaster. He also poured her another cup of coffee and placed it in front of her while he waited for the waffles to be done.
As Buffy sipped her fresh coffee, and watched him place the waffles on a plate, butter them, and add syrup before setting them in front of her with a flourish, she laughed. “You had me worried there for a minute. I thought you were going to cook for me. Like really cook.”
He cocked his head at her, smiling. “I actually do know how to cook. But one surprise at a time, yeah?” He handed her a fork. “Eat up, love. You never know when you might need some extra energy.”
Buffy finished her waffles and put the plate in the sink. She stared at it for moment, then shrugged. “Remind me to wash the dishes before Mom gets home,” she said to the man she could feel standing right behind her, almost close enough to be touching her back. He lifted his hands to rest on her shoulders, startling her when she realized how rarely he touched her when not in bat form. She turned around and looked up into his warm gaze.
“Did you know that your eyes are the same shade of blue when you’re a bat? And that I knew that, the first time I saw them?”
“Knew they were blue, but no, I didn’t know they were the same shade… nor that you might have noticed it.”
“I did. And I thought it was kind of weird that I knew that much about your eye color. Makes me wonder what else about you I know and just haven’t let myself think about….”
“Feel free to explore anything I’ve got. Not that you haven’t had plenty of chances to see—”
Buffy rolled her eyes.
“And again, I remind you that I tried to cover or avert my eyes, smartass.”
His arms were still resting on her shoulders; he’d moved them only as much as necessary to allow her to turn around. He gave a quiet chuckle and leaned in to whisper in her ear “Anytime you want to uncover those eyes, you just let me know.” Buffy found that his cool breath in her ear was even more shiver-inducing than when he did it as a bat. When he delicately licked her ear lobe, she gasped.
“So, all the licking when you’re a bat really isn’t a new thing for you?” She tilted her head to give him access to her neck so he could run his lips down it, leaving much more disturbing sensations than the little bat-kisses she was used to.
“It isn’t,” he purred. “I’m an expert licker.”
“You’re being piggy again, aren’t you?” she gasped, as he pulled her against his body and let her feel the object she’d tried so hard not to see or think about. “That was meant to—Eeep!” He’d picked her up, and she found her legs automatically going around his hips and putting her suddenly wet panties against the bulge she found there.
Her “guh” of surprise was quickly swallowed by whimpers and gasps as she rubbed herself against him. His own litany of alternately obscene and flowery comments did nothing to discourage the sensations, and she was soon clinging to him and crying his name as she came.
To her surprise, he released her almost immediately and stepped back as soon as her feet were on the floor.  “Wha—?” she began, her defenses already going up at the rejection. She started to turn away, face flaming in embarrassment.
“Sorry, love,” he said quickly. “Just didn’t want to go off in my trousers like some lovesick teenager.”
“You mean, like I did,” she said dryly, relaxing as she realized he hadn’t meant to reject her.
Stepping closer and titling her face up, he said, “If it weren’t for that fear, I’d still be holding you and hoping you’d do it again. You could pleasure yourself on me anytime you wanted to, and it still wouldn’t be enough. Don’t ever by embarrassed or sorry about that. Makes me feel all appreciated and manly, it does,” he added in what seemed like an attempt to sound less awestruck and more like a man in charge of the situation.
Buffy just gave him a raised eyebrow.  “Well, Mr. make-love-till-the-sun-goes-down, are you planning to back that up?”
In reply, he swept her up and moved to the stairs with vampire speed. Her surprised giggle made him squeeze her tightly. “I love it when you giggle,” he said. “Never heard it very often until I became a bat. Now it might be my favorite sound.”
He tossed her on the bed and followed her down, pinning her to the mattress. “Time to show you my licking skills,” he growled, unfastening her jeans. “But I need to get you naked,” he muttered, trying, with little success, to push them down.
“You first,” Buffy replied, tugging on his tee shirt.
“No fair,” he said, even as he sat up and threw his shirt over his head. “You’ve already seen me naked.”
“But I couldn’t touch then,” she said, blushing at the way he so often brought out things she thought she was only saying in her mind. “Now I can.” Putting actions to words, she ran her hands, and then her lips over his chest and abdomen. She nuzzled his belly button and giggled at his growl. By mutual agreement, they separated long enough to shed their clothing, then stopped and stared at each other.
Spike’s look was one of complete adoration and admiration, and Buffy squirmed and blushed.
“Why are you looking at me like that?” she whispered, even as she did her own perusal of the very impressive cock she’d tried so hard to avoid looking at before. “And whoa!”
He gave a soft laugh, but answered her question. “Because you’re the most amazing and beautiful thing I’ve ever seen, and I’m not sure I’m not dreaming.”
“Speaking of dreaming….” She blinked at him.
“Was I dreaming of sleeping with you the first time I woke up naked and me?  You’ve got to know I was, love. Almost figured it out then, didn’t you?”  He gave her a gentle shove to get her to lie down. “You know what the best part of being a bat is?” Without waiting for an answer, he lowered his face and murmured, “Being able to lick you whenever I wanted to.” 
He ran his tongue over one nipple, smiling as it came to a little peak, then taking it in his mouth and sucking until she was pushing her chest toward him. He dropped that one and moved to the other nipple, saying as he did, “But not where I wanted to. I’ve got a lot more licking to do, and kissing, and sucking… and—” He had to stop, his mouth once again full as he sucked that nipple to an aching point, while keep one hand on the other one to keep it happy. Buffy was making little murmurs and gasps of appreciation as he began to move his mouth down her torso, pausing to lick her navel and making her giggle, before moving to his main objective.
When he buried his head between her legs and began to show her what he meant by licking and sucking, Buffy’s appreciative sounds became louder and more enthusiastic. Her whimpers and an “oh, oh, oh” shriek reached a crescendo as she arched up and clamped her legs around his head. She held him there until she stopped trembling, then relaxed her grip and touched his head apologetically.
“I’m sorry. Are you okay?”
“Never been better,” he said, smiling up at her. “I think that might be my new favorite sound.”
His smile faded to something more serious as he moved up her body until his hips were where his head had been. “Got to feel you around me now, love. Let me in, Buffy.”
Buffy understood what he was really asking, saying, “Come in, Spike.”
She had only a brief moment to worry about the size of his cock before it was filling her in a way no one else ever had. She moaned and clenched around him, knowing and accepting that the way they fit together was going ruin her for any other man. He began slowly moving his hips, grinding down on her to send her climbing to another release before she even realized what he was doing. He kept his hips churning even while she shuddered around him, and continued to pump in and out until she was able to participate again.
She began to meet him thrust for thrust, enjoying the fact that, unlike with Parker or Riley, she didn’t need to worry that her strength might hurt him. In fact, his constant encouragement of her more violent and strong movements was all it took for her to let loose in a way she never had with anyone else. For a while an observer might have been confused about whether they were fighting or making love, but they weren’t confused. With a roar of “Buffy!” from Spike, and a shouted “Yes!” from Buffy, they simultaneously found release for the building sensations.
Buffy kept her arms and legs around him, as his hips kept moving long past the point he had anything left to pump into her. His head dropped beside hers and he kissed the side of her face before rolling to one side as she dropped her legs to the mattress, releasing him.
“Bloody hell,” he gasped. “I knew it would be brilliant, but….” He picked up her hand and brought it to his lips. “You’ll never be rid of me now, love. I’m yours forever, if you want me or not.”
She huffed an exhausted laugh. “Don’t think that’s going to be a problem. I can’t imagine doing that with anyone else.”
There was a pause, then, somewhat timidly, he asked, “So, is the enormous boy scout out of the picture, then?”
She rolled her head over to meet his uncertain gaze. “If I wasn’t so tired and satisfied, I’d probably be offended that you think I’m the kind of girl who cheats on her boyfriend. Fortunately for you, I am tired and satisfied, so I’ll just remind you that he wanted me to choose between him and Bat-Spike, and I did.”
“Are you sure he knows that?”
Buffy sighed. “Maybe? I dunno. I’ll make it more clear the next time I hear from or see him if I need to. If I don’t hear from him, I guess I’ll know he got the message.  The question really is, will he leave you alone then, or will he be looking for revenge?”
“Think we both know the answer to that, love.”  He pulled her over to stretch out on top of him. She blinked when she felt his cock poking her in the stomach.
He laughed deep in his chest, a sound Buffy was coming to like. “Did I mention what quick recovery time vampires have?”
“Nope, but you should have. It could be a selling point, you know.” She wriggled on him until it was between her thighs and she was holding it tightly. “You probably should have told me about it.”
“Rather show you than tell you,” he said with a smirk, as he put his hands on her hips and lifted her up to lower onto his cock. 
Buffy gave a smile of anticipation as she settled there. “Does this mean I’m in charge now?” 
He chuckled and spread out his arms and legs. “You always were, Slayer. I’m all yours.”
It was several hours later that Buffy, temporarily sated, sighed and said, “As much fun as this is, I don’t think I can keep it up on Eggo waffles.” As if to confirm her statement, her stomach growled.  “Well, that was sexy, wasn’t it?” she muttered as she moved Spike’s arm off her waist and sat up.
“Everything you do is sexy,” he disagreed. “But feeding you sounds like a good idea.” He sat up also, and reached down to the floor for his pants. “I could use some more nourishment too, now that I think about it.”
As if they’d been sharing a bed for years, they got up and dressed to go downstairs.
Chapter #5 - Chapters 9 and 10
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
Chapter #6 - Chapter 11
Xander got a chance to surprise Spike only a few days later. As part of the plan to make Spike (even vampire Spike) a more integrated Scooby, Xander was walking by himself near the Bronze, with Bat-Spike on his shoulder. Buffy had shared with everyone else that, under the right circumstance, Spike could be a vampire briefly, if needed for some reason, although no one else had seen the change yet. She did mention that if it happened, he would be naked, but pointed out that naked help would be better than no help at all.
When the would-be muggers confronted Xander near the Bronze, the time seemed right to test it. Crossing his fingers that Buffy was close by as she’d promised, Xander refused to turn over his wallet and took a swing at one of the muggers. He was immediately punched back and set upon by all three men. None of them had noticed the bat on his shoulder, until it was replaced with a naked vampire in full game face. Spike snarled, grabbed one of the men, and pulled him toward his very visible fangs. He held the man there only long enough to be sure they all saw his face, then shoved him away and fell to the ground, screaming and holding his head. 
Which none of the muggers actually saw, because the sight of Spike’s fangs had sent them running too quickly to see his reaction. The small group of onlookers attracted by the commotion, saw only a naked man writhing on the ground. Xander quickly threw his coat over Spike, and waved off the offers of help.
“We’re good, thanks. He’ll be fine, just having a seizure. I’m going to take him back to the home now. I’m not sure how he got out.” He helped a moaning Spike to his feet, pleased to see one of Riley’s ex-Initiative buddies in the crowd. “Let’s go,” he hissed at Spike, “before you go back to being a bat!”
They hustled off around the corner to where Buffy was waiting anxiously. Just as they reached her, Bat-Spike fell to the ground under the weight of the coat. Buffy had only shared with the Scoobies that Spike was learning to control his transitions, and that Riley thought the chip wasn’t working because Spike had prevented Riley from staking him. She’d said they needed to find a way to demonstrate it in public, but without Spike actually risking anything worse than a bad headache. Asking Xander to take Spike along for a walk in the dark was part of the plan to show them how useful he could be in an emergency. The fact that the emergency turned out to be human, and outnumbering Xander, was a fortuitous semi-public accident that allowed them to also demonstrate that the chip was working.
“Are you okay?” Buffy asked, smiling when Bat-Spike nodded against her chin. He was back to his normal place on her shoulder, snuggled up against her neck as if still in pain.
“I’m… uh… sorry about the headache, fangface. But appreciate the intervention. Pretty sure I was gonna lose that confrontation.” 
While Buffy stared at Xander in shock, Spike just nodded his head and chirped at him.
“He… he said you’re welcome,” she translated.
“Does it hurt him?” Xander asked. “The changing back and forth, does it hurt him?”
“I don’t know,” Buffy said, feeling mildly ashamed that she didn’t know. She remember after the fight with demons how long it took him to recover after he switched back. And how tired he said it made him to try to change when there was no reason for it. “I don’t think it’s easy, exactly, but I don’t know if it hurts.” She turned her head to peer down at Spike. “Does it hurt you when you change?”
He gave a little bat shrug, then shook his head, visibly wincing as he did. “Does your head real—still hurt?” He just gave her neck a little lick and kiss before giving a small nod that Xander could see.
“Okay, well, I guess that’s it for tonight. I’m going to take Spike home, to his crypt,” she added in case there was any question. “I’ll hit a few cemeteries on my way back to Mom’s.”
“Does he help you when you patrol?” Xander asked. “I mean I know he’s like superbat eyes and ears, but what happens when you’re fighting something?”
“Pretty much like tonight—except without the headache—if I need him. If I’m just fighting one older vamp or a couple of fledglings, he just flies around squeaking insults at them in bat. But the only time I was in danger of getting my ass kicked, he changed and killed two of the three demons. That was the first time I saw him do it. It didn’t last long, though. He went right back to bat as soon as we were safe.”
“Well, I’ve gotta say, I wasn’t unhappy that he showed up tonight. I mean, I knew you weren’t far away, but those guys were set on pummeling me for real. But all he had to do was grab one and look hungry.” Xander glanced at Bat-Spike again. “Sorry you had to give yourself a headache to do it, but if Riley’s buddies saw that, they’ll be able to tell him the chip’s still on the job. That’s the issue, isn’t it?” Xander turned his attention to Buffy.
“Uh, yeah. That’s the thing. If he knows Spike is still muzzled, Riley’s got no reason to try to stake him.”
“Well, except for the fact that you spend more time with batboy than you do with him,” Xander said wryly, showing he was more aware than Buffy’d expected.
“Uh, Xander… I broke up with Riley a while ago.  I thought everybody understood that? Everybody, maybe, except Riley. He doesn’t really get it. He keeps insisting that Drac put a thrall on me to make me think Spike is a bat. Even though he saw him change…”
“He saw it? He saw Spike become a bat and still doesn’t believe it? I thought Riley was smarter than that.”
There was bat laughter from Buffy’s shoulder, and she gave a quick sideways glare before she answered. “Actually, what he saw was a bat turn into Spike. He didn’t take it well, and really tried not to believe it.”
“But… wouldn’t Spike have been….oh yeah, now I understand the wanting to stake him. He was naked, and you were there, and…oh yeah.” Xander stared at Spike for a second or two. “Uh, Buffy? Exactly how many times has Spike been naked in front of you?”
She flushed, trying not to think about the entire day they’d both spent naked, or how much she was looking forward to doing it again.
“It doesn’t matter. It happens when it happens. It’s not a big deal, Xander.”
“I’ll bet Riley thinks it is.”
“Well, he asked me to choose between him and Bat-Spike a while ago, and I did. So, if he believes what he saw, then, yeah, he’ll think it’s a big deal. But since we’re not dating anymore, it’s really none of his business how often I see Spike naked.”
Buffy regretted her words immediately as Xander’s eyes got wide and he stared at the suddenly quiet bat on her shoulder. He shook his head and looked away. “I don’t really want to know. Forget I asked.”
Bat-Spike gave little high-pitched mutters but didn’t otherwise respond.  Buffy sighed and gave Xander a rueful smile. “Thanks, Xan,” she said. “It’s forgotten.”
A few evenings later, Buffy was strolling through Sunnydale U’s campus with Willow and Tara, Bat-Spike sitting quietly on her shoulder, when they rounded a corner and almost literally ran into Riley.
“Oops! Sorry,” Buffy said. “Silly us, not paying any attention to where we’re going.” She tried to move around him as Willow and Tara had, but he stopped her with a quiet, “Buffy?”
Mentally willing Spike to remain quiet and a bat, she put on her best fake smile and said, “Yes? What is it?”
Glaring at the bat glaring back at him from Buffy’s shoulder, Riley suddenly noticed the bright blue eyes that he’d somehow never noticed before. His own eyes widened in surprise and then filled with horror.
“Oh my God,” he said, almost to himself. He shifted his gaze to Buffy. “What color are Spike’s eyes, Buffy?”
She sighed. “I think you already know that answer, Riley. If you’d noticed it before, you could have saved yourself a lot of trouble.” She let that sink in, then asked, as kindly as possible, “What did you want to ask me, Riley?”
With a final horrified glare at Spike, who blinked back at him, he said, “I just wanted to tell you that I’m taking off tomorrow with my old unit. We’re going to South America to take care of a demon problem there.”
“Oh. Well. Good for you. I hope you can help them out. Take care of yourself, Riley.”
With that, Buffy slipped past him and hurried to catch up with Willow and Tara, leaving him staring after her and the small animal on her shoulder. An animal that turned its head to stare back at him at him with unnaturally blue eyes.
Buffy hurried to catch up with Willow and Tara, not daring to look over her shoulder, although she knew Spike was watching.
“What’s he doing?” She asked, forgetting Spike couldn’t respond.
Spike gave a tiny shrug and muttered something in bat that Buffy wasn't sure didn't include something rude about her expecting him to answer when he couldn't talk.
 “I hope he really goes away,” she said as they reached Willow and Tara. “I hope he’s leaving with them and not coming back for you now that he knows you’re really you.”
“What was that all about?” Willow asked, watching as Riley disappeared around a corner.
“Riley finally noticed Spike’s eyes and realized what I tried to tell him when it first happened. I guess he’s been telling himself he imagined seeing a bat turn into Spike, and had just been tricked somehow.”
“Meaning he just realized that you and Spike…. oh my.” Tara looked at Spike with sympathy. “He’s probably pretty mad.”
“He was already mad, even when he thought Spike was just an animal that I really liked. And I broke up with him over that before there was any other reason for him to be mad” Buffy sighed. “But yeah, now he knows that I’ve been spending all that time with Spike. He probably thinks we’ve been… I mean… that I….” 
Buffy stopped talking when she saw that Willow and Tara were both smiling at her and snickering.
“Fine,” she said, “We are. But we weren’t before. So he was wrong, and I wasn’t cheating on him. I was just falling in love with a bat.”
There was a crashing silence as she realized what she’d said and that not only Willow and Tara heard it, but so had the now-trembling bat on her shoulder.
“I… uh… I think I need to get Spike back to his crypt. We need to make sure it’s safe. I don’t trust Riley to leave quietly, and I’ll need to be there to lock the door and… stuff.”
“Yep,” Willow said, nodding wisely.  “There will be stuff to do.”
“Absolutely. Stuff,” Tara agreed, also nodding, but unable to hide her smile.
“Yeah, so, I’m just gonna go….”  Buffy turned and began walking away as fast as she could without seeming to be running. She could feel Spike, still trembling on her shoulder, and knew he was fighting the urge to take his normal shape. As they approached Restfield, he threw himself into the air and disappeared in the direction of his crypt.
Buffy watched him go, then broke into a jog now that she was hidden from public view. She staked one newly risen vampire as she went past him, not even slowing down to do it. By the time she got to the crypt, she was running, but she stopped when she saw the open doors.
Knowing what she’d find, she slipped in quietly, closing both doors behind her and dropping the bar into place.  She turned around to find herself pinned against the inside door by a very aroused and naked vampire.
“Did you mean that?” he growled, staring into her eyes.
“I… I think so? I mean, it’s one of those things that I think I’m just thinking, but when you’re around the words fall out of my mouth, and I—”
He fastened his mouth on hers, effectively stopping her before she could rethink what she’d said. The kiss went on until the fact that Buffy was still completely dressed was becoming a problem.
Spike swept her up and carried her to the entrance to his bedroom. She noted that the trap door had already been opened, and there was candlelight coming from below.
“Wow. I didn’t know bats could fly that fast,” she murmured. “How did you have time to do all this?”
“I was very motivated,” he said as he dropped gracefully into the opening without touching the steps. “Very, very motivated.”
Rather than throwing her on the bed as she expected, he lowered her feet to the floor and held her in front of him in a loose embrace.
“We’re going to do this, yeah?” He cocked his head at her. “Not that,” he said, gesturing at the bed, “although there will be plenty of that. But this.”
He pointed back and forth between the two of them. “We’re going to do this. Be more than a slayer and her bat?”
“I guess we are. If you’re sure you’re up for it.  Being my boyfriend seems to be something not everybody can handle.”
“I’m not everybody,” he murmured, pushing her jacket off her shoulders and beginning to unbutton her blouse.  “You’d be surprised what I can handle.”
The End (of the beginning)
End notes:
*This meme and the short conversation on the EF FB page after it was posted there is totally responsible for this story. Having said that, I really wanted to credit the meme’s creator, but that turned out to be tricky. The bat itself, it seems, contrary to what it looks like, is not a real bat. It is a felted creation from an Etsy poster in Russia. The felted bat was probably originally posted on Etsy in 2019, which is when the artist joined Etsy and began posting pictures of all her creations for sale. Somewhere right around then (almost immediately) on Sept. 19, 20