Caution Children

Chapter Nine

The following morning, Giles arrived early at the Summers' house. Giles was disgusted that the arrival of Angel and Lorne hadn't brought them any new leads. Still, he had to admit he did get pleasure out of the looks on Buffy and Spike's faces, when he told them that Angel was coming. Although, she had been angry at mischievous duo, she had made Giles fully aware of her displeasure. The Watcher couldn't deny he had to share the blame when he fell asleep on watch. Giles knew Joyce hadn't been particularly happy that he had asked Angel to come, given the vampire's history with Buffy. Nonetheless, Joyce was ever the lady and since Angel had arrived she didn't let her dislike for the vampire show. Dawn didn't have the same manners and Giles suspected the young girl had a bit of a crush on Spike. It seemed all three Summers women had a bit of an attachment to the peroxided pest. His lips pursed at the thought. He only hoped he was reading too much into Buffy's recent interactions with the vampire. It was understandable that she would gravitate towards the vampire when they were the only ones affected by the spell. Still, it made the Watcher feel uneasy. It was not the natural order of things.

Giles heard the sound of two squabbling voices the moment he walked in the door. He didn't know how Joyce could manage it at all. She really was a remarkable woman. He could see Buffy was right in Spike's face and the vampire was glaring right back at her.

"Stop trying to steal my mom," Buffy was saying.

"I can't help it if she likes me better than you," Spike replied, with a smirk.

Buffy narrowed her eyes. "She does not!"

"She does too!"

Giles sighed loudly. "Do you two ever stop bickering?"

Both of the children turned to scowl at him, temporarily united in irritation at him. As always it was a jarring feeling, when the two agreed on anything.

"Is your mother around?" Giles asked Buffy.

Buffy nodded. "Uh-huh. She's in the kitchen hiding from William."

The scowl on Spike's face at the use of his given name was priceless.

"No - she isn't hiding from me! Your Mum likes me." Spike crossed his arms. "And don't call me that."

"Mom said you're William as long as you stay in this house." Buffy stuck out her tongue. "So, there."

"I hate you," Spike spat.

"Not as much as I hate you," Buffy replied.

Leaving behind the squabbling pair, Giles made his way into the kitchen. Joyce was sitting at the table with a mug in her hands.

"Rupert!" She smiled warmly at him. "Would you like something to drink?"

Giles sat down at the table. "Have you any tea?"

Joyce got up and turned on the kettle.

"Are you hiding in here?" Giles asked.

Joyce laughed. "I'm just looking for a little peace and quiet."

"Hard to get that around here at the moment," Giles remarked.

Joyce handed him a mug of tea. "Understatement of the year, Rupert."

Giles supressed a snort and gratefully took a sip. He was surprised by the taste of the tea. It tasted more like the tea back home than the usual rubbish they sold in the States.

"Where did you get this tea, Joyce?"

Joyce smiled. "Spike recommended it to me actually."

Giles blinked. Well that was unexpected?

"I thought vampires preferred blood to tea," Giles said drily. "Well, I have to admit he has good taste in tea."

Joyce nodded her head. "He loves my hot cocoa too. I've not met too many vampires, thank God, though William strikes me as very unusual for a blood sucking fiend."

"You should never forget what he is, Joyce," Giles said quite seriously.

"I'm not stupid, Rupert." He could see from the look in her eyes where Buffy got her strength of mind from.

He stood his ground feeling the words needed to be said. "I would hate for you and Buffy to be taken in by another vampire."

Joyce's eyebrows went up at that. "Taken in by another vampire? I think you're projecting your own issues onto me. I never liked Angel. You were the one that trusted him."

Giles had no answer to that and reached for his glasses and reached into his pocket to get a cloth to polish them with. "You're absolutely right of course," he confessed. "Point taken."

Joyce was far from finished. "While I'm speaking my mind, I have to say you're being deliberately antagonistic to William, and it isn't fair as he isn't in his right mind."

"He's still a vampire, Joyce, even if he is being, and I use the term loosely, cute."

His sarcasm wasn't lost on her. "Don't mock me, Rupert," she snapped.

"I'm not mocking you," he argued. "I'm just concerned that Spike and Buffy are spending too much time together."

"Well, that can hardly be helped at the moment," Joyce pointed out.

Giles sighed, "I know. I'm just worried that he has developed a bit of an infatuation with Buffy and I can't see that ending well. I don't want her to get hurt again."

Joyce softened a little. "I know you're concerned for Buffy's welfare, but would it kill you to be a little nicer to him."

It wasn't long before the two little cretins joined Giles and Joyce in the kitchen. Spike was looking quite smug and Giles wondered if perhaps he has been listening in to the conversation. He would certainly get off on the idea of Joyce defending him.

Spike grinned at Joyce. "Hullo, Joyce. Can I have some blood?"

That butter wouldn't melt expression didn't belong on a soulless fiend even if he had a chip in his head.

"Help yourself, William," Joyce said.

"Thanks, Joyce." Spike went over to the fridge and pulled out a bag of blood. He must have been hungry as he never bothered to heat it up, just put it straight into the mug and gulped it down.

Buffy stuck out her tongue in disgust. "Bleurgh! How can you drink that icky stuff?"

Spike smacked his lips obnoxiously. "It's yummy." She didn't look convinced and he rolled his eyes. "It's life, dummy."

Buffy glared dangerously at the vampire. "Stop calling me names, pea brain."

Giles tried to supress a smile and caught Joyce's eye. Joyce's expression was too much and Giles barely managed to stop sniggering.

Spike glared at Buffy. "I'm not a pea brain, and you have funny hair."

"Mom!" Buffy looked at her plaintively. "William called my hair silly."

"I heard him, sweetheart." She looked reprovingly at the vampire. "Say sorry to Buffy, William." Then she turned back to Buffy, "and you apologise to William, Buffy."

Buffy opened her mouth furiously, before sighing in submission. Giles watched in astonishment as the two bickering children were silenced.

"Sorry," they mumbled, sounding anything but. When Joyce wasn't looking they went back to sending poisonous looks at each other. Maybe he was putting too much credence in the belief that Spike had an obsession with Buffy? Giles certainly hoped so.

Several hours later, Giles was sitting in the living room, when there was a sound of a scuffle outside. He jumped to his feet, Joyce beside him. Giles was looking out the window as Dawn, Spike and Buffy came tearing down the stairs.

"What's going on?" Buffy asked.

"I don't know." Giles searched the darkness for the answer.

He spotted Angel and Lorne walking up the drive, holding a struggling man between them. Joyce rushed over to the door to open it. Buffy and Spike stood side by side, looking on in interest, while Dawn nervously bit her lip. It wasn't until the three came stumbling in the door, that Giles got a good look at the mystery captive. Ethan Rayne!

Angel flung the mage to the ground. "Do you recognise this piece of vermin?" he asked.

"It's Ethan Rayne," Buffy said, with a scowl.

Spike narrowed his eyes. "So, this is the mage with the magic stick up his ass." The little vampire stepped forward. "You did some good work that Halloween, and I did enjoy the Watcher going all Fyarl."

"Shut up, Spike," Buffy interrupted.

Spike ignored her and continued to address Ethan, "I don't appreciate this piece of mojo that turned me into a little sprog though."

Ethan took no notice of the angry little faces staring up at him; his eyes were only for Giles.

"I see you've lost those rabbit ears, Ripper. A pity – they were quite becoming."

Giles shook his head at the sheer arrogance of the man. He was captive by a vampire and he barely reacted to it as if it was a daily occurrence.

Spike snorted his amusement at the jibe. "They were." He paused suddenly. "Hang on one minute. What am I doing just standing here? You're responsible for my little problem." Spike balled his fists and went into game face. He turned to Buffy. "Want to sort him out, Slayer?"

"Hell, yeah!"

The two children made a dash to attack the mage. Spike grabbed Ethan by the arm and bit down on it. The chip kicked in and he doubled up in pain, holding his head. Buffy had no such barrier to hurting the mage and punched him right in the nose. Giles winced at the sound of cartilage breaking.

Ethan put his hand to his face, holding his nose, which was pouring blood. "Get off me, you brat!" He shoved Buffy away.

Spike seemed to have recovered from his headache and was practically salivating at the smell of the blood. "Can I eat him if she kills him?" He licked his lips.

Buffy was still attacking his old friend and Giles was satisfied to see that Ethan finally looked uncomfortable. "Oh come on! You're supposed to be the good guys."

"Why should we help you?" Giles asked. "Unless you're going to help us."

Ethan answered from under his hands, which he was using to shield his face from Buffy's blows, "Fine – I'll tell you."

Giles nodded at Angel and the vampire scooped up Spike and Buffy, the squirming duo less than happy at the indignity of it all. He deposited the two on the settee next to Dawn.

"Oh yeah, I can bite demons," Spike declared before trying to take a chunk out of Angel's arm.

"Why you little bastard," Angel shouted, the little vampire swinging off his arm, fangs embedded deep.

"William!" Joyce chastised and Spike immediately let go of Angel's arm, but not without a glare.

Giles turned his attention back to the captive on the floor. "Well, Ethan, what on earth were you doing getting involved with a hell god?"

Ethan made a clucking noise with his mouth. "You can't say no to Glorificus, Ripper."

Giles narrowed his eyes. "Not if you only want to save your own skin."

Ethan rolled his eyes. "At the end of the day, we all want to save our own hides, and damn everyone else. At least I'm honest about it."

Angel stepped in. "Tell us how to end this spell."

Ethan laughed. "Oh, you fools. That was never the point. It was all a distraction while Glory brain sucked as many people as she could. She had some foolish idea that if she increased the amount of energy she was taken in that she could permanently take over her vessel."

Giles' eyebrows went up at that. He needed to have a good long chat with his old friend. The return of Buffy to her normal state was the most pressing matter.

"The two brats will be back to their usual selves in no time," Ethan scoffed. "The spell will wear out eventually. I surmise it only has another few days in it."

Giles gritted his teeth. "Tell us about exactly what Glory wanted to distract us from?"

"Not unless you can guarantee me protection from her."

"Despite my better judgement, I would never let her harm any human, but don't test me because I have no compunction letting Angel have at you."

Ethan gulped. "I just wanted to cause a little havoc, Ripper. The whole turning the vampire and slayer into kids was the full scale of the deal. I wasn't meant to be involved any further."

"Could you be a little bit more specific?" Joyce interjected. She tapped her foot on the floor and had her arms crossed.

Ehhan sighed. "She figured after the spell getting Buffy and Spike to tell her about the key would be a piece of cake, but then she changed her mind. She turned her attention to me and told me I had to come up with a spell to locate the key instead. You know what insane types are like."

Giles clenched his teeth together. "I order you to lift the spell right now."

Ethan flashed him a grin. "I'll need supplies."

"It can wait till morning," Joyce interjected.

"I'll keep an eye on this piece of filth," Angel offered.

"Take him down to the basement," Joyce said.

Spike and Buffy were being suspiciously quiet and Giles wondered what they were up to. When he turned around, he saw the two had fallen asleep on the sofa.

Dawn shook her head. "One minute they were shoving each other and the next they were fast asleep."

The teenager got up and stretched. "I'm going to bed."

With a wave she walked up the stairs and Giles was startled to see Joyce had started to sniffle.

"Oh I don't know, Rupert. Can we keep them little just a little longer?"

Giles starred incredulously at the woman. "Are you insane?"

"They're just so cute and little," she said watching the two sleeping bodies.

He snorted. "Little demons more like."

She smacked him on the arm. "That's my daughter you're talking about."

He stuttered at that. "I didn't mean to-"

Joyce laughed at his wide eyes expression. "I'm kidding," she reassured him.

They turned their attention back to the sleeping duo once more. Spike shifted in he is sleep and moved closer to Buffy.

Joyce frowned. "What you were saying earlier made me think. I'm worried about them, Rupert. I'm afraid Buffy's falling for another vampire and as much as I like Spike I want a normal life for her."

Giles was disturbed at her words. "I know Spike has feelings for her, but I didn't think they were reciprocated."

She sighed. "At least he is better than Angel."

The sound of the door opening interrupted them as Lorne walked in.

"How are the little tykes?" he asked. When he rested his eyes on Spike and Buffy, he smiled. "It's a good job Angelkins isn't here to see this." He looked up at Joyce and Giles once more. "Aren't they just adorable?"

Joyce laughed. "I was just saying that." She pried her eyes away from the sleeping duo and turned to her guests. "Would either of you like something to drink? Tea? Coffee?"

"I think I might need something stronger if you have it," Giles replied. "I'm going to have a private chat with my old friend and see if I can get him to explain exactly what he meant about a vessel."

To be continued….

End note: Nearly there folks. It was always meant to be ten chapters but I think it might go over a little.