Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters here.

A/N: Originally written for Fag End's Halloween 2014 Zombie Uprising Challenge for the prompt "The Haunted Palace."

This was written to take place in season ten, but can be read as simply post-"Chosen."


Spike's really quick to violate the first rule of haunted house investigation, which is also the first rule of anything that seems horror movie-ish. Don't split up, gang. One minute it's the four of them and then the next minute their group is suddenly vampless.

"Guys," Buffy calls after Giles and Willow in a stage whisper, but they're already at the end of the (super crazy long) hall and don't seem to hear her over the classic angry ghost moaning.

The second rule of haunted house investigation (which was admittedly decided by Xander about two hours ago, since they've really only had to do two so far and she was a little… preoccupied during the first one) is that when the splitting up does happen, use the buddy system. And since Willow and Giles are still together and she'd already just so happened to buddy up Dawn and Xander to stand guard by the entrance, she backtracks to find her wayward vampire.

"Spike?" She holds her scythe out in front of her, even though if this really is a haunting, even of the poltergeistly variety, it won't be of much use. But if any manifest spirits controlled by talismen (talismans? talispeople?) show up, she's prepared.

Most of the doors are shut and she leaves those be for now (no use disturbing any more spirits than they need to before they start the cleansing) and pokes her head into the open ones. "Spike?" The whispering won't make much difference for the ghosts, but until they know for sure what they're dealing with it's definitely best not to take any chances.

The third door she looks through leads into a bedroom which contains Spike, who is slowly circling the bed. Buffy tightens her grip on her scythe and prepares to knock him unconscious if he's possessed or under a thrall or something. "Spike."

"Slayer. Look at this." He doesn't look at her but instead reaches out and rattles the bed by its nearest post, tilting his head as it creaks faintly.

Buffy stares at the bed a moment. It's a tall, four-poster bed in a dark wood she couldn't identify to save her life (which it could come down to, if Spike actually is possessed, who knows. Maybe she should have brought Xander in too). Overall it doesn't look particularly supernatural in nature, just big and kinda dusty from being abandoned for so many years. "It's… pretty," she ventures.

"Innit?"

Not helpful.

She takes a step into the room. "Spike, are you okay?"

"What?" He looks back at her over his shoulder. "Yeah, fine." He shrugs and waves his hand.

"Is it a magic bed?" she asks. The words sound pretty crazy coming out of her mouth, crazier than a lot of the crazy words that have come out of her mouth over the years, but magic beds are a possibility with their lives.

But Spike actually turns around and stares at her. "What?"

Okay, yeah, his expression isn't making her feel any less crazy.

"You just seem… very focused on the bed. It's not, like, controlling you somehow or something, right?"

Spike just blinks at her slowly and yep, yep definitely crazy.

"Okay, never mind." She lowers her scythe and walks to his side. "You ditched. No splitting up, gang, unless you've got a buddy. That's the rule. Didn't you listen to Xander?"

"I thought he just said that so he'd have time alone with the Lil' Bit."

"Well," Buffy twirls her scythe a little, "yeah. But it's still a good rule. We should go catch up with Willow and Giles. Think you can track them?"

"Yeah, sure, in a minute." He's staring at the bed again. It's kinda creepy, but, on the plus side, she's definitely starting to feel less crazy.

"Spike?"

"I'm not possessed by any bedroom furniture, luv. Just trying to think how difficult it'd be to get it up the stairs to the apartment and all that."

Feeling less crazy by the minute. "You want to… steal this bed? You want to steal a bed from the abandoned haunted mansion we're supposed to clear out?"

"Abandoned, yeah. Not doing any good sitting here. And I haven't had a nice bed in a while."

Buffy flashes back the clutter of Spike's room on the ship, and then back further back to Sunnydale. He did have a nice bed then, though she mostly admired it from various other positions around the room. Like from piles and piles of rugs. Oh. "Is this normally how you decorate?" she asks. "You just steal large pieces of furniture?"

"Yeah, well, Pottery Barn doesn't exactly keep my hours."

"We're not stealing a bed, Spike."

He sighs. "You know, if I were still evil, I'd have already nicked it by now."

Buffy grabs his arm to make sure she doesn't lose him again and steers him back out into the hallway. "Yes, I know. But don't start with the 'when I was evil' stuff. Andrew's got that covered. More than covered."

"And all this time I was thinking Angel was just being dramatic and masochistic, hiding in the sewers and whatnot. But it just comes with the hero package. There's all manner of spooks here are living surrounded by wealth and fancy beds and dumbwaiters and meanwhile I'm boarding with Harris and his Star Trek collectibles."

"The life of luxury is not one for us do-gooders," Buffy agrees with a sad nod. "I'm sorry that got left out of the brochure."