Caution: Children At Play

Disclaimer: Sadly, I don't own BTVS, but if I did… it would be priceless.

Beta supplied by the kind and encouraging Ginar369. Thanks dear

Chapter Ten

Spike awoke to find he had fallen asleep on the sofa with Buffy. Someone, most likely Joyce, had placed a blanket over them. The lights were off but he could hear voices coming from the basement; the watcher appeared to be giving their new house guest the third degree. He looked at the clock on the wall. It was half past one and Joyce and Dawn were gone to bed. Spike could hear the sound of footfalls outside on the porch. Angel was probably skulking about like a guard dog outside. Bloody idiot. He looked over at the sleeping Slayer and decided he didn't want her to wake up with him cuddled up next to her. It wasn't until Spike tried to move that he realised there was a weight on his arm; Buffy was lying on him. He snorted in disgust at the drool dripping from her open mouth. Good job he wasn't wearing his duster. Spike rolled his eyes and pulled his arm roughly from under her, the force of his movement caused her to fall off the sofa onto the floor. Buffy woke with a start and Spike chuckled quietly as she blinked confusedly. Her mouth opened furiously, but before she could utter a word Spike came over to her and put his hand over her mouth.

"Mmph." Buffy struggled in his grip trying to pull his hand away.

"I want to hear what's going on downstairs," he said. "If you start yelling we're not going to hear anything."

Buffy stopped struggling and he removed his hand from her mouth. Before he could feel too smug, she stomped hard on his foot. The malicious bint wore a devious expression and he bit his tongue trying to stop a loud curse.

His eyes narrowed dangerously. "There was no need for that, Slayer."

She put her hands on her hips and her nose in the air. "You would say that, William."

Bloody, superior bint. Despite her attitude Spike knew she was just as curious as he was and that was only reason she hadn't punched him in the nose as well.

"Well then!" Buffy demanded. "What are they saying?"

He had lost track of the conversation while he was arguing with the Slayer. Whatever it was about her that got under his skin so much. Everything else seemed to pale into significance when she was around.

He shook his head trying to concentrate on the matter at hand before hissing, "If you just shut up I might be able to tell you."

Buffy stuck her tongue out in response. "Stupid vampire hearing," he heard her muttering.

Spike smirked. "If that's the way you feel, I won't bother fillin' you in. I'll keep my stupid vampire hearing to myself."

He narrowly avoided a cushion thrown at his head. He really loved getting a reaction out of the chit. Since he had been chipped, he had much less chances to get his kicks and he would take them where he could. Buffy tapped her foot giving him a meaningful look. He shook his head in amusement and finally turned his attention back to the interrogation in the basement.

"You better tell me exactly what it is you know about Glory," Giles was saying. "If you want protection, then you're going to have to earn it."

Spike almost shivered at Giles' chilly tone despite himself, but Big Bads didn't shiver, even little Big Bads. Nevertheless, he had to confess he'd underestimated the man. Under that stiff upper lip and bumbling facade was a man of steel. For the first time he realised you crossed Rupert Giles at your own peril.

The mage sounded rattled. "I've answered your questions, Ripper. What more do you want from me?"

Ripper? Spike wondered where Giles got the name.

"You have to know something that can help us," the Watcher continued.

"I have told you all I know about the spell, haven't I?"

Spike heard a loud thud from the basement and from the pained yelp, he figured Rupert was responsible and giving the mage a thump.

Buffy stood at the door straining her ears. "I can't hear anything."

Spike finally took pity on her. "Not a lot to report, Slayer. Your old man is taunting the mage, tryin' to get some info."

"No," Ethan choked from the basement. "Killing me won't do any good. Could be that I remember something of use later."

Spike had to admire the man's balls. "The bloke's not biting though."

Buffy pouted. "I wish I had vampire hearing too."

"I think you'd make a pretty good vamp, pet," Spike confessed.

"Would I?" She seemed strangely chuffed with the idea. "It's cos I'm scary, right?"

Spike grinned wickedly. "If only the monsters knew just how cranky you are in the morning."

Buffy scowled at him. "Yeah – well you're a smelly boy."

"I don't smell."

Buffy scrunched her nose and began fanning her face. "Eugh. What's that smell? Oh yeah – it's William."

Spike pursed his lips, and then retorted, "You've stupid hair. No wonder you and Peaches get along so well. You prolly talk about shampoos and hair gel all the time."

Spike knew his comeback was pretty lame, but he wasn't going to let Buffy have the last word.

Buffy's mouth was twitching. "You're the one with the yen for nail varnish. You're such a girl."

Spike's mouth dropped open. "I'm not girly." He spat the last word.

Their voices had risen with their banter and they had momentarily forgotten about the conversation going on in the basement.

The front door flew open and Angel walked in. "Can't you two quit bickering? You're going to wake the whole house."

Buffy poked her finger at Spike's chest. "It's all Spike's fault."

Spike gave her a two fingered salute. "No – it's Buffy's fault."

Angel sighed dramatically. "I thought Spike was bad. I would have thought you would have more sense, Buffy."

Spike snorted and rolled his eyes. "Oi Buffy, what did you ever see in this berk?"

There was a disapproving sniff from behind them. Spike whirled around to see Giles standing in the doorway.

"Disruptin' your pow-wow are we, Rupert?"

Giles took his glasses from his nose and started polishing furiously. "Indeed!"

Buffy walked over to Giles and pulled his arm. "Can I come down and watch you? I wanna help. I can help. "

Giles looked up from his task. "No – you should go to bed. You look exhausted."

Spike thought Giles had a point. She did look rather tired, her eyes were red-rimmed and she was yawning.

"I'm not tired," she protested with another wide yawn. "Please, Giles. I promise I'll be good."

Giles shook his head. "I'm sorry, Buffy. You're not exactly yourself. I know what I'm doing."

More like the tosser didn't want Buffy seeing the real Giles, Spike thought.

"You don't let us have any fun," the Slayer complained throwing herself back on the couch. "And I'm still not going to bed."

"I tell you what, Slayer," Spike said. "I'm sick of staying inside all day and night. It's like I'm a prisoner and I'm getting cabin fever. I say we go outside. "

Buffy's face lit up and she jumped up from the couch.

Giles gave in with a sigh. "I don't see why not as long as you keep in Angel's sight at all times."

"You're giving me babysitting duties?" Angel asked incredulously.

Spike met Buffy's eyes in exasperation at Peaches' choice of words. The large fore headed idiot wanted babysitting then he was going to get it.

"Well, have you got a better idea? They'll tire themselves out and then we'll a couple of hours peace."

They were doing that bloody thing again of talking to one another about them as if they weren't in the room. Bugger that.

Spike tugged Buffy's arm, "Let's get out of here, Slayer, before those two bore us to death."

Buffy gave the vampire and man a seething look before nodding vigorously. "The last one outside is a rotten egg."

She pushed him hard and he almost fell over with the force of the push.

"Hey!" he yelled.

She tore out the door with a giggle and Spike stomped quickly after her, Angel in his wake.

"You're a cheat!" He accused her once he had come face to face with her on the porch.

Spike spotted a football in the neighbours' garden and quickly hopped over fence.

"Spike come back here," Angel ordered.

Spike grabbed the ball and came back over the fence. "I'm not back cos you asked me. I'm back because I want to."

Buffy stifled a giggle and Spike threw the ball at her head, but her slayer reflexes let her catch it easily.

"Wanna play?" he challenged her, his eyebrow cocked. Knowing Buffy the way he did, he was sure she wouldn't disappoint.

"Prepare to be humiliated."

Satisfied Spike turned to his grandsire, "How about you Angel?"

Peaches turned his back and started to pace around the perimeter of the fence. "Somebody has to stand watch just in case Glory or her minions come."

"Spoilsport!" Buffy called out.

Spike kicked the ball to her and was surprised to see her give him a wink. She placed the ball carefully before kicking it in the direction of Angel. It landed smack bang on the back of the vampire's head.

"Spike!" he growled.

"Sorry, Angel," Buffy lied. "I'm a really lousy shot."

Angel's mouth was open so wide he was danger of swallowing the ball if either of them kicked it at him again.

"I would have got you in the goolies if it were me," Spike couldn't resist pointing out.

"Come on," Buffy pleaded. "Play with us. Learn to live a little."

Angel picked up the ball from the ground where it had fallen. "I must be insane."

The following morning, Spike arose to the sound of feminine giggles. Angel , Buffy and he had spent an hour playing football before they came inside. The Slayer was exhausted and if he was honest he had been quite tired as well and they had finally agreed to try and sleep. As soon as they had arrived back inside Giles had left to get some much needed sleep and Angel had taken over the role of playing prison guard.

Spike walked cautiously into the kitchen making sure the window was obscured. Tara, Willow and Joyce were laughing over pancakes and coffee.

Joyce looked up at his entrance. "Sorry, did we wake you?"

Spike shrugged and pulled himself up onto the stool. "Some pancakes to share?"

Tara handed him a plate.

"Thanks, Glinda," he said and shovelled some pancake into his mouth. "Joyce, you make the best pancakes."

"You can be a right charmer when you want," Joyce said with a smile.

"It's why women find me irresistible," he replied, "even those playing for t'other side."

He was rewarded with a blush from Glinda.

"Stop flirting with my woman," Willow joked.

"So, tell me, how long more do I have to go about climbing up onto stools?"

The three women looked at each other and Spike was filled with a sense of foreboding.

"The spell isn't going well then?" he asked.

"The problem isn't the spell," Willow responded. "The ingredients are rare, really rare."

"We didn't realise just how rare until we tried to order them," Tara added.

"How long are we looking at?" he queried.

"At least a couple of days if not a week," Tara said gently.

Spike scowled. "Bugger."

When darkness fell, Spike and Buffy managed to convince the adults to let them outside again. The situation with Glory meant they had to be careful, but there had been no sign of her or her minions in recent days. After an hour the pair returned inside, determined to nag Joyce into making them cocoa. Joyce and Giles were in the middle of a conversation and didn't even notice their return.

Joyce sounded pained. "When we get Buffy and Spike back to normal, we still have to defeat Glory?"

"Don't worry we won't let her get at Dawn," Giles said soothingly.

"God, I still can't believe she's not real. She feels real. I don't care where she came from, she's still my baby."

Everything just stated to fall into place – all the secrecy and the worry. "Dawn's the key," he muttered watching Buffy's face lose all colour.

"Does she know?" he pressed her.

Buffy shook her head, for once seeming lost for quips.

"Don't you think she has the right to know a hell god is out for her blood?"

Buffy found her voice. "No, Spike," she said firmly. "Dawn would freak out. She doesn't need to know. Promise me you won't tell her."

He made a zipping motion with his hand. "She won't hear it from me, but I'll have you know it's the wrong thing to do. She's better off finding it out from you."

"You better not tell Glory either," Buffy hissed.

Spike's mouth dropped open in surprise at her words. To his surprise Spike felt hurt as not being trusted. He had been doing his utmost of late to be of help to Buffy and the Scoobies, even if he usually demanded payment. But he was fond of Dawn and only she and Joyce were kind to him and treated him as a man not a monster. Spike had an urge to slam the door, which tried to supress out of respect for Joyce, but he stomped out of the room in temper nonetheless. He always had been quick tempered but he found his emotions closer to the surface these days. He knew there was a reason he hated children besides their ear piercing mewling. Soddin' childlike emotions. He was supposed to be the Big Bad after all. He clenched his fists tight, digging his nails into the palms of his hands. He couldn't let anyone see him like this.


It was Angel, the last person in the world he wanted to see. Of course in this useless little body he couldn't be trusted to defend himself. How pathetic! He was careful to keep his back to the other vampire. In a normal occasion he would never give his grandsire a chance to stab him in the back.

Angel grabbed him by the arm, "Get inside. The sun's up any time…" One look at Spike's miserable face silenced him.

Spike pulled away. "Let go of me!"

"What's wrong?" It was almost funny to see the conflicting emotions flit across Peaches' face.

"Nothing," Spike lied.

"You're a useless liar, William. Always have been and always will be."

"Don't have to tell you if I don't want to."

Angel scowled. "Suit yourself, but if you don't come in soon you'll be vampire flambé."

"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" Spike glared at him. "I'm stuck in your ex-honey's house and her mother likes me a lot more than you. Must make you sick."

"I'm not the one they kept the truth from though, am I?"

Spike slouched, "No matter what I'll never be good enough. I'm like Marcia in the bleedin' Brady Bunch. I'm not evil enough to be Angelus or good enough to be Angel."

Angel was doing an impression of a fish and Spike realised he had spoken aloud.

"Bloody hell," he moaned. "Don't tell anyone I said that, Angel."

It seemed like Angel was struck dumb even though he had often accused the younger vamp of being jealous of him.

Spike balled his fists. "Come on, are you going to make some jokes at my expense?"

Angel shook his head. "I'm going to forget about this and put it down to you being a kid. Somehow, I just don't have the heart to mock a child."

"Hey, I am not!"

"Doesn't mean I won't tease the hell out of you when you're back to being the thorn in my side. Come on, let's get inside."

Spike and Buffy sat sipping at the hot cocoa. He didn't say much as he was trying to wrap his head around the face that Buffy's little sister was an inter-dimensional key. He was also a little embarrassed at his emotional outburst, but Angel didn't say a word. Buffy kept glancing at him as if she was going to ask him a question.

Finally, she spoke, "Why have you been acting all weird or should I say weirder than normal?"

He turned his back to her. What he wanted to do more than anything was to ask why they never trusted him with the secret. She would just laugh that he even thought he was part of the gang.

"Well?" she demanded.

"I want to know why didn't you tell me about the Bit?" he confessed.

She looked confused. "You're evil, Spike."

"Maybe I am, but I'm fond of the chit. Do you really think I would sell you out to Glory?"

She didn't reply, which was answer enough.

"You're wrong, you insufferable bint, and I will protect the Bit whether you like it or not. Your Mum likes me, and little sis does too, even if you don't."

"I like you, Spike," she said quietly. Her voice was so low if he hadn't been a vampire, he wouldn't know what she said.

"You do?" he asked.

"Well, I hate you, but you're alright sometimes."

He looked away trying the hide the big smile on his face. "You're not so bad either, Slayer."

"We're cool then?" she asked.

He turned back to her, trying to look nonchalant. "Yeah."

"Good. Now, let's pretend this whole thing never happened. There's only so much mind bendy things I can accept happening. Pinky promise?"

He felt like such a prat but he held out his finger. "Pinky promise."

To be continued….