CUDDLING WITH THE DARKNESS
“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.
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.
Sparked by a common meme showing a cute little bat that tries to be scary while also wanting to cuddle.