AN: Hope everyone had a lovely Christmas. Enjoy the chapter, I decided to add a little twist, which I'm hoping you guys will enjoy.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Life after Death

By Secret Slayer

Chapter Five

Baggage

They leave the flat with a poorly and barely packed suitcase, with enough clothes and essentials to last a few days at most. Spike flings the worn leather case into the back of his red Viper, along with a cardboard box filled with some books he thinks might come in handy. Most are Giles' or Willow's old volumes that he'd kept after they'd ... gone. Some he had accumulated himself in his centuries of living. On top of the box, the broken picture frame sat.

"Nice car," Buffy admired, looking over the sports car.

Spike smirks, "Prezzie from the Tall-and-Broody one."

Buffy raises an eyebrow at him, "Angel gave you this?"

Spike's smirk grows bigger and his eyes twinkle mischievously, "Eventually."

"I'm not even going to ask," Buffy replies with a roll of the eyes.

Spike slides into the driver's side and Buffy gets into the passenger's seat, securely fastening her seatbelt. Spike, of course, doesn't bother and puts the car in gear and roars out of the underground car park.

The journey is silent, Buffy not bothering to ask where he's driving to, a feeling of trust developing for the vampire. However, after only half an hour into the journey and barely on the outskirts of London, she frowns when he pulls down a street and gently parks in front of a little bungalow.

"Spike, I'm not sure this is the greatest getaway destination," she says, looking out of his window at the vulnerable little building, nestled between two larger detached houses.

The houses either side are derelict with boarded windows and slanting walls. The front gardens are mostly just dead, yellow grass with the occasional sprouting weed. The small bungalow on the other hand, is surreally immaculate. It has flawless white walls with a little red door and a wisteria climbing around the front window. The front garden is a bed of lush green with wild flowers of every colour blooming on the edges, despite the wintery temperatures.

Must be magic, Buffy wonders.

"We're not stopping," Spike replies absently, opening his door.

Buffy eyes him suspiciously, watching him walk towards the little building. He knocks and waits patiently, until the small door opens just a fraction – just enough for whoever is inside to see the visitor. It only takes a beat for the occupant to register Spike and open the door fully. Buffy leans forward in her seat, trying to catch a peek, but the owner quickly shuffles into darkness. Spike looks around nervously. Finally, Buffy sees a small, frail old woman come to the door with a little girl at her feet. The old woman has luminous green eyes that despite her otherwise human appearance show that she is demon. The little girl however, looks completely human, with bouncy brown curls barely tamed by a pink bow loosely tied at the nape of her neck.

Spike says something, but Buffy can't hear from her place in the car. Her eyes widen when the vampire takes the hand of the little girl and leads her towards the car. The old demon lady peeks out of her home, seemingly checking the coast is clear, before disappearing back inside, closing the door so loudly, Buffy can hear it through the closed car doors.

Spike marches towards the car, the little girl following obediently at his side. He pulls the back door open, helping her in and buckling her seat belt for her. Buffy watches in the rear-view mirror, surprised at the vampire's ease and gentleness with the little girl.

I guess Spike is good with kids, Buffy thinks. Could this world get any weirder?

The back door closes and the girl looks at the rear-view mirror with big, blue eyes, locking eyes with the slayer. Buffy averts her gaze, startled by the intensity from such a small child. Spike silently slides back beside Buffy, turns the keys and starts off again.

"Aren't you going to introduce me?" Buffy eventually asks.

"Right," Spike says, "Buffy meet Marnie. Marnie meet Buffy."

Buffy twists in her seat, surprised when the girl holds out her hand.

"Pleased to meet you Buffy," she says with a cute British accent that makes Buffy melt from the inside out.

Buffy reaches out her hand and shakes Marnie's much smaller hand, "Hi."

Marnie retracts her hand, tilting her head curiously at Buffy.

"You're pretty," the girl smiles. "Uncle Spike, is she your girlfriend?"

Spike rolls his eyes and with Buffy they simultaneously say, "No."

"So Spike," Buffy says in a hushed tone, whilst Marnie distracts herself with looking out of the car window. "Wanna explain who the little girl is?"

Spike sighs, "She's our neice."

"Our?"

"Dawn's great granddaughter, or great great granddaughter. I lose track," he says, eyes focused on the road ahead.

Buffy's eyes widen and she glances back at the girl, now able to see the similarities with her sister, although after a couple of generations, there are some different, but pretty characteristics to this little girl too. Her brown hair is lighter than Dawn's and her eyes are a darker blue, almost a stormy grey.

"How old is she? Why isn't she with her mom and dad?" Buffy asks, keeping her voice low.

"They disappeared. I tried to find them, but no luck. I've been caring for her since she was a baby. Except when I stay in London, she stays with a friend. Its bad news if the wrong kind of demon finds a baby," Spike briefly looks at Buffy from the corner of his eye to judge her reaction, she just stares back with wide, but accepting eyes. "She's five."

"You're so different," Buffy says in small voice, looking down at her hands clasped in her lap.

If Spike hears her comment, he ignores it, continuing to drive. They're well and truly out of London now, driving down a long, deserted stretch of road with only the rolling countryside surrounding them. The sun is setting and the clouds stretch above in an array of mesmerizing pinks and oranges.

"Where are we going?" Marnie asks.

"On holiday Bit," Spike replies.

Marnie grins a big, beaming smile and bounces on her seat excitedly. "A holiday?!"

"Somewhere far away," Spike mumbles to himself.

"Spike, where exactly are we going?" Buffy asks.

"Scotland."

An hour passes and he finally stops at an abandoned petrol station. The Viper purrs into the vacant area.

"I need the toilet," Marnie announces.

"Come on Marnie, I'll take you," Buffy says gently.

Marnie grins again, enthusiastically grabbing the slayer's hand. "I like your new girlfriend Uncle Spike."

Buffy and Spike exchange an awkward glance, before the vampire heads towards the empty shop and Buffy quickly leads the little girl to where the toilet should be.

The light in the shop flickers hesitantly, illuminating it one second and then plunging it into darkness the next. Luckily, Spike's vampire vision stops it from being a problem. He kicks the front door open, inhaling deeply to check for any unwelcome inhabitants. He doesn't smell anything other than a body somewhere that's been dead a while and decaying food. First, he grabs a rusty shopping basket from the floor, throwing as many canned foods and drinks into it as possible. When it's mounded high, he heads to the till. Bizarrely, after all this time, it's still locked shut. Wasting no time, he uses his free hand and pushes it off the counter. It hits the floor with a loud crash and spills open. There's no fortune inside, but enough that should keep them going in an emergency. He puts the basket on the counter and bends down, scooping the change and notes into his duster pockets. With a pleased smirk, he grabs the basket and saunters out of the shop.

Buffy raises an eyebrow at him. "Been busy?"

"Retail therapy luv," Spike winks.

"Is there chocolate?!" Marnie asks, trying to peep into the basket.

Spike tucks it under his arm to hide it from her view, and then turns his back, seemingly rummaging through the basket to purposefully create a dramatic effect. The little girl rocks impatiently on her heels and Buffy smiles amusingly at the vampire's teasing. He turns again with a knowing look on his face and after a beat too long, opens his hand to reveal a single wrapped block of chocolate in his palm. He hands it to the little girl, who hugs it to her chest protectively.

"Yummy," she says, "Thank you."

"Don't suppose there's any yummy goodness in there for me?" Buffy asks, her stomach growling on cue.

Without even going back into the basket, he reaches into his duster pocket and pulls out a small tub of melted ice-cream. He hands it to the slayer.

"Cookie-dough!" she squeals unashamedly.

She turns back to the car then pauses, seemingly forgetting something, when she turns back, Spike is already holding a plastic spoon for her, which she takes sheepishly and then returns to the car. Spike chuckles, remembering that it was Buffy's favourite ice-cream flavour.

"I want ice-cream," Buffy whines, flopping down in front of the television.

Spike rolls his eyes, "How bloody old are you? Five?"

Buffy pokes her tongue out at him and swings her legs over his lap, leaning her head back on the arm of the sofa. Spike absently flicks through channels on the TV, but Buffy's pout distracts him too much, so he switches it off and stands so fast, she topples off the side and onto the floor.

"That was uncalled for," she grumbles.

"Get your coat," he replies grudgingly.

Buffy frowns, "Are you kicking me out?"

Spike clenches his jaw, "No, you daft bint. We're going for ice-cream."

In the opposite corner of the living room, Xander sits on an armchair with Dawn on his lap. He's reading a comic book whilst she idly plays with his hair. However, at the scene of the vampire and slayer before them, they chuckle.

"Oh man," Xander says, trying to stifle his laughing, "You're so whipped."

"Sod off Harris," Spike grumbles as Buffy reappears in a navy coat, the hood lined with faux fur.

"Hey what's with all the standing still, there's ice-cream to be buying!" Buffy announces. "Xand, Dawn, you guys coming with?"

"Sounds fun," Dawn agrees.

She slides off of Xander's lap and stands, revealing her small baby bump. She stretches and yawns.

"I have a craving for cookie-dough," she says.

"Me too," Buffy agrees.

Xander looks at her with his good eye, "Not pregnant too are ya, Buffster?"

Buffy laughs and nudges Spike, "Not unless someone has something to tell me."

"Still undead," he says, putting his hands up in mock surrender.

"Hello, Earth to Spike."

Buffy waves her hand in front of the vampire's face and he blinks, clearing his thoughts. He looks at Buffy oddly for a moment and then with wide eyes, looks over the slayer's shoulder.

"Where's Marnie?"

"She's in the car hugging her chocolate," Buffy says slowly, then shrugs, "I tried to explain that it would melt and be all icky, but apparently that's the way she likes it. So I hope you've got some wet wipes in that basket of goodies."

"Always got some in the car," Spike says absently, finally catching a glimpse of the little girl in the back of his car. There's just a faint reflection of her in the passenger window. He sighs with relief.

"Spike, not that I'm big with the caring of vampire wellbeing... but are you okay?"

Spike rolls his eyes. "I'm fine slayer. Tired is all."

"Want me to drive?" she asks genuinely.

"Pfft, an' end up wrapped round a tree?" he scoffs. She pouts. "No ta luv."

They both head back to the sports car and Buffy smiles affectionately at the little brunette on the backseat, who's drifted off to sleep, her brown ringlets in disarray.

"She's a cute kid," Buffy says, clicking her seatbelt into place.

"The bloody best," Spike replies proudly.

They share a genuine smile, before the car starts up and Spike drives into the night.

It's a good hour before Spike pulls into an abandoned motel. There's no lights and if he hadn't known it was there, it would have been impossible to see in the engulfing darkness of night. They drive down a bumpy track and park haphazardly outside the main entrance.

"This looks cosy," Buffy remarks sarcastically.

Spike gives her a look. "I'll grab the bags, you bring Marnie in."

Buffy nods and gently opens the back door of the car. She leans over the small girl, holding her breath when she moves a little in her sleep, but sighs with relief when she stills again. Carefully, Buffy cradles the little girl and pulls her out of the car, kicking the door shut with her foot. Instinctively, Marnie wraps her arms around Buffy's neck.

Spike is waiting patiently at the entrance, the grubby box of books under one arm and the suitcase in his other hand. Buffy hesitantly approaches.

"Spike, I don't like this," she admits, shifting Marnie in her arms to get a better view. "My slayer senses are tingling."

Spike's nostrils flare, inhaling the surrounding scents. He shrugs, nudging the door open with his shoulder.

"Nothing here luv," he says. "Used to be owned by vamps, but they're long gone. Probably what you're picking up on, I'd wager."

"Hope you're right. Not sure how good my fighting style is with a five year old attached to my front," she says with a smile.

Spike chuckles.

It's hard for Buffy to see inside because the electricity has clearly died a long time ago. The interior of the building is shabby, but not as derelict as it had looked outside. The moon is big and full and casts just enough light through the cracked glass windows that she can make out Spike's silhouette. She follows him, but frowns at all the doors they seem to pass, wondering why they can't just use one of those.

"Erm Spike, what's wrong with these rooms? I mean, as fun as this whole walking in the dark thing is, my arms are gettin' kinda achy."

"I'm trying to find a room that doesn't smell like someone has died in it," he replies glumly, then suddenly pauses. "Like this one."

He pushes the door open and Buffy looks inside, having to blink a few times to let her eyes adjust. Spike dumps the box of books and suitcase on the bed, then fumbles in the bedside draw, successfully finding two half-melted candles. He puts them on the small cabinet and pulls out his box of matches. Using the wall to light his match, he puts it to the candle and the dingy little room glows softly in the candle light.

There's a small sofa along the wall, which Buffy carefully places Marnie on. Spike shrugs off his duster and covers the little girl. She wriggles a little underneath it, getting comfortable, and then is lost to her dreams once again. Buffy sighs heavily and sits on the edge of the bed. Spike sits beside, surprised when Buffy suddenly stands, looking around frantically.

"There's only one bed," she accuses.

"Don't flatter yourself pet," Spike says, his eyes narrowing at her. "I was plannin' on sleeping on the floor."

Buffy blushes in the dim light and averts her eyes, "Oh."

A breeze whistles through the cracked window, reminding Buffy just how cold it is. She shivers and heads to the suitcase, flipping it open and feeling bitterly disappointed at the lack of warm clothing inside. She looks at the thin, moth eaten sheet on the bed and her shoulders sag.

"You should get some sleep luv," Spike says, trying to settle down on the floor.

Buffy nods, looking at the bed and grimacing. "Easier said than done."

She keeps her boots on for added warmth and peels the cover back. The mattress beneath is grubby and she quickly pulls it back, deciding to sleep on top. Pushing the suitcase and box to the foot of the bed, she crawls on top of it, curling up into a foetal position. She shivers so hard the mattress squeaks beneath her.

"I could warm you up," Spike says from the floor, no edge of smuttiness to his voice.

Buffy frowns. "No thank you."

"Suit yourself."

She rolls onto her back, wrapping her arms across her chest. She looks out of the window behind her head and sees the first flurry of snow begin to settle on the ground outside. Condensation floats before her as she exhales. She shivers again.

Spike stands from the floor.

"Budge up," he orders.

Buffy's eyes widen. "What? No."

"I want some sleep and I can't bloody do that with your teeth chatterin' all night."

Buffy glowers at him and reluctantly shifts a little. He lies down on the edge of the bed and at first Buffy flinches, his skin as cold as death – which makes sense, being dead and all.

"Spike, you're not helping. If you're trying to-"

He wraps his arm around her middle, pulling her a little closer. She tenses, but then sighs, the weight of his arm starting to warm her middle. Instinctively, she moves a little closer and rests against his chest, the fabric of his shirt warming her.

"Better?"

"Much."

He rolls over only slightly, just so that his body leans on top of her a little, to create a barrier from the cold draft.

"We need to start researching tomorrow," Buffy whispers, careful not to wake Marnie. "I miss my friends and Dawn. I can't imagine how hard this must be for her."

"She's tough," Spike comforts.

"It's going to be weird," Buffy says.

"What's that?"

"Going back. Knowing what I know. Especially about you. I might actually start being nice to you," she says with a frown as though her very words are changing everything she has ever believed in.

Spike chuckles, "I think that's the ice-cream talking luv."

She laughs and smiles up at him, "I'm not kidding Spike. You turn out to be a kinda good guy. Maybe I should give you more credit."

"Well, speaking from experience, that would be a bloody refreshing change," his smirk fades when a more serious thought comes to the fore of his mind.

"What's the matter?" she asks softly, surprised by her own tenderness.

She looks at him, his blue eyes glistening in the low candlelight; his face angled and carefully shaded in the dim glow, as though done perfectly to create a dramatic effect. Her hands are pressed against his hard chest, which raises methodically and unnecessarily – a human habit that has never died. His arm is muscular and holding her possessively, even though she can tell he's trying to restrain himself at the same time. Buffy's not sure if it's the memories that keep sneaking into her brain or the fact that she's been able to see a different side to him, but suddenly in that moment, she decides she likes Spike. Platonically, of course – well, maybe with a slight hint of attraction.

Look at those lips. No- Bad future Buffy. Stop looking at his lips.

"Nothing pet," he lies, not wanting to admit he's scared that she'll change their future together once she returns.

"You're being Mr Avoid-y again," she scolds.

A stronger breeze howls through the broken window and Buffy leans into Spike, the top of her head resting under his chin. He holds her tighter until her shiver passes.

"Why couldn't we have lived in Barbados or something?" she grumbles.

Buffy looks up at Spike, suddenly conscious of how close they are. She tries to shuffle back a tiny bit, but is instantly hit by the cold.

"I can go back to the floor if that makes you more comfortable," Spike says, noticing her movement.

"No," she says quickly and then blushes, "I'll be a frozen Buffy by morning if you do that. It's just for one night right?"

Spike nods, "Yeah, we'll be nice and warm by tomorrow. Got a nice place by the lake. We spent a few Christmases there with the gang."

"Sounds nice," Buffy muses.

"It was."

"This is nice," Buffy whispers. "Except for the time travel and being stuck in a rotten motel, probably on some sort of demon hit list by now."

Spike raises his eyebrows at the slayer.

"I can't believe I just said that," she quickly says.

"Probably just memories," the vampire says sadly. "Sure you'll go back to wanting me dead in a few minutes."

Buffy frowns at his words. "Actually, I think I kinda meant it. We've officially entered Bizzaro World."

A small spark alights in Spike's chest and his eyes lock on Buffy. Her eyes are dark and inviting in the candlelight, her soft brown hair messily pulled up into a bun. He's missed her so much. Having her back should have been the greatest blessing of his entire unlife, but instead its just painful torture. Having the woman he loves so dearly so close, but knowing she doesn't feel the same - hasn't experienced enough life yet to stop thinking so black and white and understand shades of grey. Of course, she's not a million years away from that. Perhaps he should stop distancing himself from her and instead, prove what a good life they could have.

He thinks he's dreaming when her lips gently meet his.

TBC...

AN: Mr Gordo the cat will make a return... he hasn't been forgotten. Hope you liked this chapter, I had fun writing it. Think I'll do some more action in the next chapter...