full 3/4 1/2   skin light dark       
Cuddling with the Darkness by slaymesoftly
Chapters 1 and 2
“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.
“Why me?”
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.
After meeting Riley for breakfast before he went in to work the rest of the day, Buffy found herself at loose ends.  “Might as well check on Spike,” she said to Willow, who was also going to be busy all afternoon.
“Are you going to keep taking care of him?” Willow asked with a small frown. “I mean, what if he stays a bat forever? He’s probably still immortal. You could have a pet bat for the rest of your life!”
“Huh. I haven’t really thought that far ahead. Although, it was kinda cool to be walking around with a bat on my shoulder. I’ll bet no other slayers have bats as accessories.”
“There are no other slayers,” Willow said with an eye roll. “Except for Faith, and she doesn’t count.”
“I’ll bet she’d want a bat if she could have one,” Buffy sniffed. “But she can’t. He’s my bat.”
Buffy approached Spike’s crypt, happy to see that the doors didn’t appear to be disturbed, and opening them quickly, leaving both doors ajar to allow more light into the big room. The first sight to meet her eyes was Spike—apparently sound asleep on top of a sarcophagus—once again back to being a vampire. A naked vampire. One whose clothes were across the room where Buffy had left them the night before.
She stood, gawking at what she was forced to admit was a very gawkable body, until she noticed that Spike’s eyes were open and focused on her in confusion. She whirled away from him, dropping the boots she’d picked up on the way there, and running to grab his clothes to throw at him.
“Get dressed!” she almost shrieked. “You’re not a bat anymore. Put some clothes on!”
“Huh. I’m not, am I?” He sat up and patted himself all over as if not sure he believed it. “I was a bat when I went to sleep.”
“Well, you aren’t now, so cover up!”
Keeping her eyes averted, Buffy picked his jeans up from where they’d landed when she threw them at him, and held them out with one hand, covering her eyes with the other. She felt him take them from her and waited until she heard the sound of a zipper being pulled closed before dropping her hand to look at him.
“That’s much better,” she muttered, still trying to keep her eyes off his torso and the way his jeans hung on his hips, leaving a small trail of light brown hair to disappear behind the zipper. “Shirt now, please,” she added as she caught him trying to smother a laugh.
Without answering, except for a snicker she pretended not to hear, he pulled the tee shirt over his head and ran his hands through his hair.
“All right, Slayer. I’m decent again. You can stop pretending you haven’t seen me naked.”
“You wouldn’t know decent if you fell over it,” she said. “And Bat-Spike was always naked, just soft and furry and cuddly, and I’m stopping now…”
He did laugh aloud then before moving to his fridge and taking out a container of blood.
“I reckon I owe you for taking care of me as good as you did last night. I appreciate it. I’d have been hard put to get myself in here and fed.” He wrinkled his nose. “Insects are highly overrated if you ask me.”
“You seemed happy enough to have them last night.”
“Was a bit of fun, catching them like that. But I really needed to have my blood.”
“You probably would have been all right,” Buffy said. “At least you would have until you woke up naked somewhere outside this morning.”  She giggled at the thought of Spike falling asleep on the sidewalk outside Willy’s and waking up naked in the morning.
“Ha, bloody, ha, Slayer,” he growled, but he was smiling at her anyway.
“So, do you think that’s it? You’re all yourself again?”
“Don’t have any idea. I’d like to think it’s over, but who knows what that soddin’ piece of Eurotrash did to me?  For all I know, as soon as the sun goes down, I’ll be out of my kit and wearing wings again.”
Buffy frowned. “Well then, you probably better make sure you’re home at sunset so you don’t get caught out somewhere.  I’ll come by on my way to patrol to check on you in case you’re a bat again.”
“I’d appreciate that, pet. I promise not to be naked…. unless you’d like me to, of course….”
“As if!”
“Was worth a try,” he said with a shrug.  “See you tonight, Slayer.”
“Later, Spike.” She waved and went back outside, leaving the doors open in case he wanted the fresh air while he was able to protect himself.
After explaining to her mother about Spike’s misadventure with Dracula and his condition the night before, Buffy left to see what shape he was in now that the sun was going down. Telling herself she was not, definitely not, hoping he was not only still Spike shaped, but naked again, she entered Restfield much more eagerly than she usually would have.
When she got to the crypt, she saw that the outer door was closed, so she knew Spike had remained in his normal form at least long enough to close the doors. She pushed the inner door open, then, at the last second said, “Spike? I’m here. You’d better have clothes on….”
The only reply was the now-familiar high-pitched squeaking that meant he was back to being a bat.
“Oh no,” she said as she entered the room and stared around. “Where are you? It’s dark in here!”
She felt something soft brush her cheek as the bat landed on her shoulder and muttered little squeaky sounds into her ear.
“Oh Spike, I’m so sorry!  What do you think it means?”
Bat-Spike squeaked and growled and flew around the room in a fury. Buffy couldn’t make out any words, but she was sure it was just as well since the sounds he was making sounded like the bat version of obscenities.  When he’d calmed down and was back on her shoulder she stroked him softly until he stopped his high-pitched muttering.
“Okay, I guess it’s time we brought in the big guns,” she sighed. “Let’s go find Giles and Willow and see about breaking this curse.”
She walked towards Giles’s apartment, chattering to Spike the whole time until she noticed the people she passed on the street staring at her warily.
“What? You’ve never seen anybody with a pet bat before?” she demanded when a couple stopped and blatantly stared at her.
“Does it talk back to you?” the woman asked, apparently unembarrassed to have been caught staring.
“Yes. As a matter of fact he does. Say something to the lady, Spike.”
He obliged with a short and very likely unflattering series of squeaks, that made Buffy laugh even though she had no idea what he’d said.
“Let’s go, Spike. We don’t want to be late for the meeting.” Buffy flounced away, giggling at the expression on the woman’s face.
“It’s a good thing I don’t speak bat,” she said, still giggling. “If I did,  I’m pretty sure I’d have to be apologizing to her for your language.”
Spike nodded against her chin and purred his response. The continued in comfortable silence until they got where they were going and Buffy knocked once and pushed the door open.
“Hi Giles! We’re here. I mean, I’m here, and Spike’s here, but he’s a bat again.”
Giles looked up from his desk and frowned. “Again?”
“Oh yeah. When I checked on him this morning, he was himself, but it looks like the curse is still there, and when it got dark, he turned back into a bat.  So we need to find a way to fix this.”
“Indeed. It must be quite inconvenient.”
Spike left Buffy’s shoulder to fly around the room, squeaking his displeasure, and then settled on a lampshade, hanging upside down as if in a roost. Buffy giggled at him, even as Giles grumbled about the potential damage to his lamp if Spike was to suddenly turn back in a human-sized vampire.
“It’ll be fine, Giles,” she said, waving her hand at him. “It only happened when he was asleep and the sun was up. Until tomorrow morning, he’s gonna be a bat.”  She stroked the soft fur on his stomach and cooed, “A cute little furry bat.” Spike seemed to squirm as she gently scratched at him, making her come even closer. “Are you a ticklish little bat? Does it make you laugh when I tickle your tummy?” Putting actions to words, she poked him with her fingertips, running them all over his front and sides.
With a squeal of outrage, he left the lamp and flew up to hang on a curtain, glaring down at the laughing slayer. Giles couldn’t hide a smile, but he did say, “Buffy, are you sure this is an appropriate way to treat someone you know to be grown man? It seems quite disrespectful for you to treat Spike as if he were a pet hamster.”
Buffy flushed at the reminder that she’d been running her hands all over someone she knew would be a naked male vampire if the curse were to suddenly fail.
“I guess you’re right,” she sighed. “But it’s so much fun, and he’s so cute!”  She looked up at the still glaring bat. “I’m sorry, Spike. I keep forgetting that you’re really you. Forgive me?”
He stopped glaring and growling, but remained hanging on the curtain rod rather than going back to the shoulder she was patting hopefully.
“Just leave him be, Buffy. He can hear and see what we’re doing from up there and if he has anything to add, he can perhaps find a way to tell us. Or, if not, he can tell us tomorrow when he is once again a man… er… vampire.”
When everyone was there, seated in chairs or on the couch, Buffy introduced the problem in question.
“So, guys, here’s the deal. When it was daylight, Spike turned back into himself while he was sleeping. And he was like that all day until the sun went down. Then, poof! Back to being a bat. So, what we need to figure out is how to break the curse so he doesn’t have to spend every night chasing bugs.”
“Why not?” Xander glanced up at Bat-Spike, now quietly hanging near the ceiling. “He gets to fly around being a bat all night, then sleeps all day like a normal vampire.  As long as you’re feeding him….” He turned his eyes on Buffy. “Are you feeding him? Did he drink blood last night?”
Buffy sighed. “I did feed him. But if I know he’s going to be himself when the sun comes up, I just need to make sure he has enough blood in the fridge and that he’s safely home while he’s a bat if he isn’t with me. He can feed himself in the daytime when he’s a vampire.”
“Does he have to be with you at night?” Willow frowned. “I mean, he could hang out here, or wherever, couldn’t he? You could even take him home with you and he could visit with your mom when he’s human—er vampire—again.”
Buffy’s eyes flew to where Spike was obviously having a bat-like coughing fit, and she started shaking her head vigorously.
“Oh no. No. He needs to be in his crypt when he changes back to himself. Trust me!”
They all stared at her, waiting for more explanation, but when none was forthcoming and the pink was fading from her cheeks, Giles took control again.
“So,” he said. “There is no real urgency to our quest for a solution then. We simply need to keep his refrigerator supplied with pigs blood, and Buffy needs to make sure he is safely home for the night before she stops patrolling and goes to her home.”
Spike flew down to sit on Buffy’s shoulder and begin squeaking vigorously at Giles.
“Do you know what he’s saying, Buffy?” he asked, frowning. “Why is he so agitated?”
“I don’t speak bat,” Buffy responded, as she ran a soothing hand down Spike’s back. “But I’d guess he didn’t like your idea that there’s no rush to fix him.” She continued stroking him until he stopped squeaking and huddled up next to her face and neck. Behind them, Xander made a strangled sound.
“Buffy! That flying rodent is really Spike. Why are you letting him cuddle up to you like that? Get him away from your neck!”
“It’s fine, Xander. Sheesh. He isn’t going to bite me, and even if he tried, his teeth are too tiny to hurt me.”
“But… he’s being… cuddly. Bats aren’t cuddly, and vampires definitely aren’t cuddly. Make him go away.”
“He looks pretty cuddly to me,” Willow volunteered. “All soft and furry.”
“I think he makes an excellent pet for Buffy,” Anya said. “It’s not like a bat and a vampire slayer aren’t both creatures of the night. And anyway, he’s cute, in a rodentish sort of way. Don’t you think so, Buffy?”
Buffy smile and nodded. “He is cute, isn’t he? Almost like a stuffed animal that you’d put on your bed.”
Bat-Spike started a high-pitched growl that faded off to a purr when Buffy picked him up and nuzzled his furry belly. He relaxed completely in her hands and just lay there purring while she cuddled and nuzzled him. His little eyes, that had been closed in bliss, abruptly popped open and he flipped himself over and took to the air. Buffy blinked in surprise.
“What’s wrong, Spike? Did I hurt you? It’s hard to know what might be too rough for a bat.”
He gave a reassuring squeak and circled back to her shoulder. Keeping himself a distance away from her neck and face. When she repeated her question about whether she’d hurt him, he shook his head and bumped her chin softly before retreating to the end of her shoulder. Buffy frowned her confusion at him, but shrugged and went back to talking to Giles.
“So, anyway. Maybe it’s not an emergency exactly, but I’m sure he’d be happier not to keep bouncing back and forth between a bat and a vampire. And, not that making sure he gets home safe after patrol is a burden, exactly, but unless I start taking him home with me, it just makes for an even later night than usual.”
“Why can’t you take him home with you?” Anya asked. “You never did say why he couldn’t stay with somebody else or with you.”
Buffy stammered and stuttered, finally settling for, “Well, bats don’t wear clothes, you know? I mean on account of all that soft fur… and… vampires do. Or at least they should, but they can’t if they fall asleep while they’re bats…. and….”
Anya caught her drift immediately.  “OMG, Buffy! Have you seen Spike naked? You have, haven’t you? That’s how you know he’s naked when he changes back.”  She gazed at Buffy’s red face speculatively. “What does he look like naked? Is he as built as it looks like he should be?”
Catching the thunderous expression on Xander’s face, she quickly added, “Not that I’ve thought about what Spike looks like naked. Or like I actually care. I have my own quite pleasantly put together boyfriend, so of course I don’t care what Spike looks like naked!”
Giles cleared his throat. “If I’m getting the gist of this, if the only problem is that Spike needs to wake up in the vicinity of his normal clothing, there’s no reason he can’t be left here, or at the Magic Box, or even at Buffy’s home as long as he has clothing available those places and everyone is aware that he will need privacy for a few minutes after sunrise.”
“I want to go on record as saying, there will be no bat-sitting at my place,” Xander said. “No bats, and definitely no naked vampires, no matter how compact and muscular they might be.” When everyone stared at him, his face got pale. “Not that I’ve given any thought to naked Spike’s build either!” he quickly insisted. “I’m just saying I don’t want him in my vicinity.”
“Okaaaay,” Buffy said, rolling her eyes. “Don’t be naked in front of Xander, Spike.” She smothered a giggle, but she knew without looking that Spike was giving a bat version of a smirk. “Stop that,” she hissed at him, only to be squeaked at defiantly.
“So, if we go back to his crypt now and get some extra clothes to leave other places he might end up being in the morning, he should be okay until you and Willow figure out how to break Dracula’s curse. I mean, how hard can it be? He’s a vampire, not a sorcerer, right?”
“We’ve got this, Spike. Don’t worry. You won’t have to stay on Buffy’s shoulder much longer.” Willow saw the expression on Xander’s face, and added, “Don’t worry, Buffy. You won’t have to carry him around much longer.”
“Right… Well, it’s not a big deal usually. He even tries to be helpful when I’m slaying….” She frowned. “At least I think he’s being helpful. He might just be flying around making fun of them in bat language for all I know.” Her eyes got wide and she turned to look down at the little blue eyes on her shoulder. “Can they understand you?”
He blinked, then looked away briefly.
“Spiiiike…” Buffy warned.
He hopped closer and did his yes nod against her chin.
“Really? That is fascinating, Spike. Tell me more about that ability to communicate with vampires while you’re a bat….” His voice trailed off as Spike squeaked what was obviously a derogatory reply. “Yes, quite,” Giles said as if he’d understood every high-pitched word. “I meant, of course, during the daytime when you can communicate with me properly. Shall we say, the Magic Box, around noon tomorrow?”
Spike rubbed his head against Buffy, growling softly as he did so.
“He said yes,” Buffy offered. “But he doesn’t sound happy about it. I think he sleeps most of the day.” Spike cuddled up against her, nodded and purred his appreciation.
“What about late afternoon then? Before sunset. If he’s there when he changes, then he’ll have a set of clothes at the Magic Box for future emergencies.”
Spike gave a tiny shrug that only Buffy was aware of, then squeaked his assent.
“Okay. If that’s settled, we’re going to go patrol and I’ll get some clothes to take home with me, and tomorrow afternoon he’ll leave some at the Magic Box in case he needs them there.  I guess if for some reason he spent the night here, he could borrow something of yours to wear.”
Identical vocal expressions of shock and dismay, one much more high-pitched than the other, greeted her idea, and everyone in the room except Giles and Spike burst into laughter.
“On that note….” Buffy walked to the door, bat in place on her shoulder.
As they closed the door behind them, Xander said, “Does anybody else feel like she’s way too comfortable having a pet bat that turns into a naked vampire at sunrise?”
Giles sighed, and the girls just rolled their eyes at him.
“I think it’s kind of… sweet,” Tara said. “I don’t think slayers probably have a chance to have pets of their own. A bat is pretty appropriate if you think about it. I think Buffy is enjoying this.”

 “I think Spike’s enjoying it too,” Anya said, refusing to elaborate of why she thought so. Somehow she was sure if she shared what she thought happened when Buffy was nuzzling Spike’s belly, it would not go over well with anyone, least of all her boyfriend.