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Cuddling with the Darkness by slaymesoftly
Chapter 3 and 4
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Buffy was walking along, not feeling any vampire vibes, when Spike suddenly began squeaking in her ear. She had no idea what he was saying, but she could hear the frustration building as the shrill sounds went higher until they were too far out of the range of her ears.  With one last angry squeal, he launched himself off her shoulder and into the face of a slavering demon that had popped up from an open grave beside them.
Buffy watched helplessly as Spike threw himself at the demon time after time, only to be swatted down every time until he no longer got up. Snapping out of her shock, Buffy kicked the demon in what she hoped was a knee. Wishing she’d thought to bring a sword, she slashed at him with her stake while glancing around for a more formidable weapon. For lack of anything else, she grabbed a stone statue of an angel and whacked him across the face with it. Fortunately, it seemed to discourage him, and he ran away as well as something that looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy with teeth and claws could.
Buffy collapsed to the ground, wondering if she’d caused herself a serious injury by snatching up what she was now realizing had been a very, very solid and heavy angel.  Glancing around, she could see that it was now in several, no doubt still very heavy, pieces.
“Guess that explains why he ran away,” she muttered. “I’ll bet that hurt him almost as much as it did me. Speaking of which….”  She tried to stand up, only to give a small cry when her back and stomach muscles screamed at her that it was an incredibly bad idea. She sank down again, leaning against a tombstone, whimpering with frustration. Glancing around, she realized she hadn’t seen or heard Spike since the last time the demon smacked him down.
“Spike?  Are you okay? Where are you?”
A subdued, soft squeak had her staring around the dark cemetery. “Where’s the damn moon when you need it?” she grumbled, searching with her eyes for some sign of Spike, finally catching a small movement from the corner of her eye. In middle of one of the black shadows on the equally black ground, she caught the flash of a blue eye and a very tiny white fang.
Clenching her teeth and moving slowly, she inched her way across the distance separating them, gasping whenever she made a movement too suddenly, and what she now feared might be seriously torn muscles screamed at her. When she got to Spike, she lowered her head to put her face near him, trying to see what was wrong. One wing seemed to be dragging on the ground as he tried to make his way to her, and she reached out with one hand so he could cling to her thumb while she pulled him closer to her face.
“Is it broken?”
She felt him nod against her hand, and she sighed.
“We can’t stay here, you know. I can’t fight right now, and you can’t fly away. We’re sitting ducks—or slayer and bat, anyway.”
He just nodded again and cuddled closer in her hand, purring sympathetically.  Buffy sighed and pulled herself to a sitting position. After she caught her breath from the pain caused by moving her torso, she asked Bat-Spike, “Can you hang on to my shoulder? I’m gonna need both hands to push myself off the ground.”
He nodded, and with her assistance, made his way up her arm, using his claws and dragging the broken wing. When he’d settled on her shoulder again, she took a deep breath, then exhaled. “Okay, here we go. I can do this….” It took her two tries, and a lot of swearing, but she was eventually back on her feet. She swayed briefly, then took a tentative step. Finding that small, slow steps allowed her to progress with a minimal amount of pain, she headed in the general direction of Spike’s crypt. Small chirps from him kept her on the right path, and after what seemed like hours, but probably wasn’t, she found herself sighing in relief when the familiar doors came in sight.
They’d managed the entire trip without mishap, only running into one vampire that was too frightened of Buffy to bother noticing she could barely hold herself up, and he ran away screaming.  Spike’s high-pitched snort of disgust made Buffy smile even as she was grateful not to have had to use her arms to fight or stake him. She was sure Spike’s precarious one-wing grip on her shoulder wouldn’t have survived a fight any better than she would have.
Buffy scolded herself mentally when she saw the ajar door, and realized they had left it open when leaving earlier. “It was dumb to leave this open, but I’m really glad we did now,” she muttered, as she slipped in through the outer door and gave the inner one a nudge with her hip. It too, wasn’t closed tightly and she was able to enter the crypt easily. The very dark crypt, in which she couldn’t see a thing, or find a candle to light.
Spike was squeaking in her ear, trying to urge her farther into the room.
“I can’t see!” she complained. “I’m going to trip over something and kill us both!”
He gave a sigh of bat-sized exasperation and bumped her with his head, nudging her in one direction. 
“Oh, I guess you can see? Or whatever it is bats do to get around in the dark. I didn’t think about that. Can you help me find a candle? And your lighter?”
With a certain amount of miscommunication and stumbling, Buffy eventually fetched up against a table and felt around on it. She knocked a pack of cigarettes to the floor, causing little bat growls in her ear, but that told her she’d found the right place, so she felt around very carefully until she found both the lighter and a candle.  She flicked the lighter on and easily saw the candle to light it. She gave a happy sigh at being able to see again.
She made her slow way back to the doors, but knew there was no way she could pull the outer door closed. She leaned against the inner door, and using her torso as little as possible, she allowed her weight to push it until it was closed tightly. She leaned against it briefly, taking deep breaths, almost forgetting about Bat-Spike until he rubbed up against her neck, making snuffling sounds.
“Yeah, yeah. We made it. Yay us. I hope to hell we’re safe in here, ‘cause I still can’t lift my arms without making my whole body hurt!”  She took him off her shoulder and set him on the table. “I guess I should see if I can fix your wing,” she said, studying the fragile and intricate-looking structure. He shook his little head, squeaking out incomprehensible words that seemed meant to say it would be okay.
“Okay, fine. Be broken, then,” she said with a yawn as he dragged himself back up to her shoulder. “I need to get some sleep until my slayer healing kicks in.” She eyed the ratty old couch, then yawned again. “Any port in a storm, I guess,” she sighed as she lowered herself carefully onto the cushions. She bit her lip against the pain, and reached for his coat where it was hanging on the back, using it to cover herself. She was too tired to tell Spike he couldn’t sleep with her when he curled up next to her neck, but she did manage to mumble, “You better not wake up naked on top of me,” before closing her eyes. If he responded with anything other than a purr, she didn’t hear it.
She awakened several hours later to sense the faint light of dawn through the dirty windows of the crypt. Without opening her eyes, but noticing that there was no bat cuddled up to her neck, she said, “You’d better have your pants on, Spike. I might want to open my eyes.”
She heard his soft chuckle, as well as the soft ding of the microwave.
“Just keep ‘em closed, pet. In fact, go on back to sleep. It’s just now sunrise. Too early for you to be up, and time for me to drink some blood and start to heal.”
“Put your pants on,” she muttered, but rolled over to sleep some more. She was grateful to learn that her slayer healing had somewhat kicked in, and she was still sore, but capable of movement without screaming. And she was perfectly happy to be able to sleep longer.
The next time she woke up, she opened her eyes cautiously and peered around the room to find Spike sitting in a chair only a few feet away, staring at her with a smirk on his face. A quick glance showed her that he was wearing his jeans, so she sighed and sat up.
“Think you’re funny, don’t you?” she grumbled as he didn’t try to hide his laugh at her fearful expression when she first opened her eyes.
“I think I know what you were worried about seein’,” he said, still chuckling. “Sorry I’m not still furry and cute.”
Proving to herself that she was not fully awake yet, she looked him up and down, then blushed and said, “Not so furry, but still kinda cute.” Horrified at herself, she quickly ducked back under the coat and tried to pretend she hadn’t said that. Maybe he didn’t hear me…?
One peek at his clearly shocked expression told her that was a faint hope. She waited, hoping he would let it go, and knowing he probably wouldn’t. But, to her surprise, he didn’t say anything, just getting out of the chair and walking to his “kitchen”, giving her time to school her face into an expression of mild curiosity.
“So, how’s the arm today?”
“It’s my shoulder,” he responded. “The wings are more like… fingers. And it’s a mite better, but still not working very well. Don’t want to have to fight anybody today, that’s for sure.”
“Well, it’s daytime, so I’m hoping neither one of will have to fight anything.”
“Still sore, are you?” She looked away from the concern on his face, finding it more uncomfortable than a smirk.
“Yeah. I’m better, but still pretty sore. I don’t know what I pulled, or if I tore something important, but please remind me in the future that heavy stone statues are, you know, heavy!
She smiled at his soft laugh and “Done, luv”, then asked, “What the hell was that thing? And were you trying to warn me? Is that why you were shouting at me in bat?”
He laughed again, then nodded. “Was. I could smell and hear it, and I knew you wouldn’t be able to do either of those things until it was too late. Next time I’m having a bat-sized meltdown, do us both a favor and pay attention, yeah?” He waited for her to nod, then added, “As for what it was, some sort of grave-robbin’ ghoul, I think. Not sure I’ve ever seen one in this country, but Europe has them. Not something vamps are likely to run into often—being that we like our prey alive and breathing, not dead and rotting.”
“Indeed.” As he spoke, he picked up a tee shirt and frowned at it. “Was a bit of a challenge gettin’ my trousers on,” he said, gesturing to the arm still dangling at his side. “Don’t suppose I could get some assistance with m’shirt?”
Buffy gulped, having long since noticed that his jeans were zipped, but not buttoned, and that he wasn’t wearing anything else.
“I can try,” she said in what she hoped was a casual manner. “I’ll pull it over your head for you at least. Or, maybe you could wear a different shirt? Like one that buttons up the front and doesn’t have to be pulled on?”
“Would do that if it wasn’t that those are downstairs and I don’t see either one of us pulling that trap door open just now.”
“Right. I can’t do it because owie…. and you can’t do it because it’s more of a two-arm job.”
“Exactly.” He waited, holding his shirt in his good hand.
Buffy took it from him and held it so the neck was open. “I can’t lift my arms that high right now,” she said. “Maybe you should sit down?”
“Sure, pet, I can do that if it makes it easier.” He perched on a rickety wooden chair and waited while she tried to get the shirt over his head without hurting his shoulder or her own still very unhappy muscles. She managed to pull it most of the way over his head, but hissed in pain when she tried to yank too hard.
“Don’t do it, if it’s going to hurt you,” he said quickly, putting his good arm up to stop her. “I don’t need to wear a shirt. It’s not like I get cold.”
“No, no, I’ve got this. I just pulled too hard.” She continued to work it down over his head, muttering, “Maybe you shouldn’t wear such tight shirts.” When it was over his head and hanging around his neck, she said, “Now what?”
“Good question.” He put his good arm through the armhole on that side and tugged the shirt part way down.
Buffy cocked her head at him, trying to focus on the problem and not on the fact that she was standing only inches away from Spike’s very unfurry, but still appealing, body.
“I think, maybe, you’re just going to have to leave that arm out. Or keep it tucked inside the shirt so you don’t have to move it? That might be even better. Kinda like a sling, only a tee shirt.”
“Maybe,” he said dubiously. “Either way, I’m not going to be usin’ it for a while. Let’s give it a try.”
He used his left hand to tuck the useless right arm against his ribs and waited for Buffy to pull the shirt down over it. She pulled as hard as she could without hurting herself or ripping the fabric, stretching it so as to get it over his shoulder without touching it. When she’d accomplished that, she continued pulling gently until it was all the way down his body. His gasp when her fingers brushed the skin of his stomach made them both flinch and look away from each other. Buffy gave a last tug, then stepped away and exhaled loudly.
“Well. I think that’s the best we can do right now. I guess you can fix your own meals now?”
“Yeah. I’ll be fine, luv. Thanks for the help.  I should be able to get my boots on by myself when it’s time to go to the Watcher’s. With luck, I won’t run into anything nasty in the sewers while I’m on my way there.”
Buffy frowned. “I’d offer to escort you, but I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be much help yet. Maybe you should put it off till tomorrow?”
“Nah, I’ll just take a sword with me. I’ve got the use of my left arm, so I won’t be all that handicapped. I’ll meet you there later.” He looked at her intently. “You be careful on the way home, yeah?”
“I’ll be fine. It’s daytime, so not much evil lurking about to worry about. I’m just going loll around and let slayer healing keep doing its thing.”
“Right then. You’ll rest up, and I’ll rest up, and maybe by tonight we’ll both be off the injured list.”
“I hope so.  See you later, Spike.” She walked toward the door he’d apparently already opened before she woke up.
“Later, Slayer.”
Buffy went out into the sunlight, trying very hard to forget both Spike’s gasp when she touched his skin, and the way they both seemed to be worrying about each other more than was normal.
After a day spent catching up on sleep, and soaking in a hot bubble bath, Buffy was starting to feel more like herself. Although, a sharp pain in her side that sent her doubling over when she tried to reach something on a high shelf in the kitchen made it obvious that she hadn’t recovered completely from the worst of her injuries.  She felt around carefully, moving her arms in different directions and identifying the places she thought she had the worst damage.
“Crap,” she muttered just as her mother walked in.
“I beg your pardon?” Joyce said. “And, by the way, where were you last night?”
“Sorry, Mom. I was just complaining that my slayer healing isn’t working as fast as it could be.”
“You’re hurt? Why didn’t you say so? What’s wrong?”
Buffy filled her mother in on the events of the previous evening, as well as Spike’s bat attempts to warn her about the ghoul and his own lack of success in fighting it.
“So, you both got hurt? Where is he?” Joyce looked around as if Spike should have come home with Buffy.
“Spike the bat got a broken wing, and Spike the vampire has a broken shoulder this morning. He’s at his crypt where he can guzzle blood all day and hope his vamp healing works better than what I’ve got.” She stopped and frowned. “Actually, he’s probably on his way to the Magic Box by now. Giles wants to talk to him about Dracula and being a bat and stuff, and he can’t ask questions when Spike’s a bat because all Spike can do then is make ear-piercing noises.”
“Did you spend the night at Rupert’s then? Why didn’t he bring you home?”
“No, Mom. I told you, after I threw that statue, I could barely walk upright. I stumbled to Spike’s crypt with him hanging onto my shoulder and collapsed on the couch. I fell asleep there, and came home this morning.”
“You spent the night with Spike?” Joyce’s voice went up an octave.
“He was a bat, Mom. A teeny little bat with a broken wing.  He wasn’t himself until the sun came up this morning.”  At her mother’s dubious expression, she added, “I’ll bring him by tonight after he turns into a bat again, and you can see how cute and harmless he is. ‘K?”
To avoid Joyce’s probing questions about Spike and his crypt, Buffy left soon to go to the Magic Box, where she found Spike and Giles in the training room.  Spike was laughing at Giles who was peppering him with questions. He held a clipboard in his hand and was jotting down Spike’s answers as he sputtered them out.
“No. I can’t turn into a bat whenever I want to. If I could, I wouldn’t! Don’t like not being able to take care of myself.”
“But when you’re a bat, you are one hundred percent a bat, are you not? You can’t speak so as to be understood, you have bat anatomy, you can fly, you have fur—”
“His eyes are still blue when he’s a bat,” Buffy interrupted. “That’s not a normal color for a bat. At least I don’t think it is….” she trailed off, realizing she hadn’t done any research on bat eye color.
“I don’t believe it is,” Giles agreed. “How interesting.” He scribbled more notes on his clipboard.
“How’s your arm?” Buffy asked Spike, noting that it was still wrapped inside his shirt.
“I’ll live. How about you?”
“A lot better, but there’s at least one place that is still pretty pissed off at me.  I can’t reach up very high without feeling like I’m ripping something open.”
Giles glanced up from his clipboard. “You were injured? Seriously so?”
“Didn’t you tell him?” Buffy gawked at Spike. “We could have died and you didn’t tell him about it?”
“Hey, he’s not my watcher,” Spike blustered. “He didn’t even ask what was wrong with me. All he wanted to know was what it was like to turn into a bat every night.”
For the first time, Giles seemed to notice that Spike only had one arm visible.  “Were you injured while you were a bat?”
“Oh, now you’re curious,” Spike snorted. “Yeah. The ghoul that was trying to take out the Slayer swatted me out of the sky and broke my wing. Which turns out to be my shoulder when I’m not in bat form. Hurts like a bloody bastard, in case you’re interested.”
Giles turned to Buffy. “And what happened to you? Was this all part of the same incident?”
Buffy glanced at Spike, who shrugged and leaned back against a pile of mats. “You tell him, luv,” he said.
Buffy quickly recapped the evening’s events, starting with Spike’s attempts to distract the ghoul, and ending with the long, painful trek to Spike’s crypt. Having already understood that Spike had been in bat form, as well as seriously injured, Giles didn’t have the shocked response that Joyce did at hearing that Buffy spent the night on Spike’s couch. Instead, he questioned her about how she’d injured herself, and what still seemed damaged.
“After I did it, everything hurt. My back, my stomach, my ribs…. I could barely stand up or walk. I sort of hobbled with little baby steps, hunched over like an old lady. I was better this morning, and after a good, long, hot bath and some heavy-duty Tylenol, I thought I was fine. Until I tried to reach a plate on a high shelf.” Buffy rubbed her side as she remembered the stabbing pain. “Something in here is still not happy about throwing that statue.”
Giles nodded his head, frowning at the way she was holding her side. “No doubt you tore a large muscle in there. I suggest you take some more time to heal. And try to avoid tossing large statues.” He cleared his throat. “You should probably always have a sword with you anyway.”
He glanced back at Spike. “As should you, I suppose. I see you brought one with you.”
Spike rolled his eyes and Buffy giggled. “Giles, when Spike is a bat, he doesn’t weigh as much as a stake—never mind a sword! And he can’t fly now, so all he can do is sit on my shoulder and try to tell me if he hears or smells something.”
“Or sees something,” Spike put in. “Vampire night sight is good, but when I’m a bat, it’s like I’m seeing and hearing a whole new world.”
“Interesting…. “ Giles scribbled again. “That could be very helpful for Buffy if there was only some way for you to communicate with her.” He stared at Buffy. “How do you communicate now?”
Buffy shrugged. “He can understand me, so he can nod ‘yes’ or shake his head ‘no’. And sometimes, when he’s really mad, I can tell he swearing. “ She giggled at Spike, who smirked at her.
Giles turned to Spike. “If you two could work out some sort of system of communication, it could be quite useful to Buffy to have eyes and ears in the air, so to speak.”
Buffy and Spike exchanged a long look. He quirked up one eyebrow at her. “Up to you, luv. It’s not like either one of us is going to be taking on anything tonight. We could work on a system of some sort.”
“I guess we could. I told Mom I’d bring you home with me so she could see what a cute little bat you are and not be worried that we spent the night together.”
“Together?” Giles looked back and forth between as Buffy stammered and tried to explain while Spike roared with laughter.
“Not together, together!  I mean he was a bat! I just meant that she was all ‘why did you spend the night with Spike?’ and I tried to explain that I couldn’t come home because I couldn’t move without crying, and that Spike wasn’t as big as my hand, and he was a bat with a broken wing, so my virtue wasn’t in any danger, and….” Buffy ran out of breath, shooting a glare at Spike, who was still laughing.
“Ah,” Giles said, also glaring at Spike who subsided to silent tiny smirk. “Indeed. You were perfectly safe from the big bad vampire…bat.” He gave a sigh.  “And will be again tonight, I presume, unless Willow and Tara have had better success than I at coming up with a counter spell.”
“Exactly. Not to mention the chip and his broken shoulder—not that I’d use that against him unless he was trying to kill me, but he’s pretty harmless now too. Just not as cuddly.”
“Speaking of harmless,” Giles said, reaching for his notes. “Does the chip not work when you are a bat?”
Spike blinked. “Got no bloody idea, do I? I eat bugs when I’m a bat, except when the Slayer pours blood into a bowl for me. It’s not like I’ve got a death wish and started trying to bite humans while she was around.”
“So, you don’t know then?”
“We can try to find out tonight while we’re working on learning to communicate. He’s bound to get mad at me for something, and he can try to bite me,” Buffy threw out casually.
Both men stared at her with mouths agape and eyes wide.  Spike recovered first, purring, “Could do that any time you want to, Slayer. I’ll wager if you ask me to do it, the chip might not even care….”
Sending Spike a threatening look, Giles said, “That’s a terrible idea, Buffy! What if it turns out he can bite?”
She frowned at both of them. “Then you’ll have an answer to your question. Sheesh, Giles.  It’s not like a teeny little bat is going to hurt me. And if he did try to really hurt me, I’d smack him down and break his other wing!”
“Meanwhile,” Spike said, “do me a favor and keep looking for some way to break this bloody curse. I don’t fancy spending the rest of my life being a flying rodent for half of it.”
“Yes, yes. We’ll continue to work on it. In the meantime, I should like very much to observe the transformation myself. Perhaps I will notice something that—”
“Bugger!” Spike said, just before his clothes collapsed onto the floor, leaving a small, snarling bat under them.
“Too late!” Buffy said, lifting the shirt up as carefully as possible in case Spike’s wing was caught in it.  Which is was, so she just held it up until he managed to crawl out using only his left wing.
“He said something just before he transformed. What was it?”
“I think he said ‘bugger”. Maybe he felt it coming on?” She knelt down near Spike and asked, “did you know it was going to happen?”
He nodded against the hand she was reaching out, snuggling into it as she lifted him from the floor and set him on the top of a pile of mats. She set him down gently, stroking his fur when he made squeaky little complaining noises.
“Well, that’s new, I think. Maybe it’s starting to wear off? If he can tell when it’s going to happen, maybe he can learn how to stop it.” Buffy looked at Giles for his thoughts.
He nodded. “Also an avenue to approach if we don’t have more success breaking the spell. It may turn out to be something he has control over, as Dracula himself appears to have. It’s possible he’s given Spike a new skill, just not let him in on how to utilize it properly.”
“That could be pretty cool, Spike,” Buffy said with enthusiasm. “Think about it! You could ride around on my shoulder until there was something to fight, then transform back to a vampire and help me kick butt. You’d be like my secret weapon!”
A tiny bat snort was the only reply.
Buffy picked him up again, being careful not to jostle his broken wing now that it wasn’t being held in place by anything. “We can work on that while we’re figuring out how to communicate while you’re a bat.”
She set him on her shoulder and waited until she felt his little claws grasping the fabric. “Is that going to work? Can you hang on with only one wing?”
He gave one of his nods, but squeaked until she frowned and looked around. “What? What are you squealing about?”
“Perhaps he wants you to take his clothes?”
“What? Oh, no. The idea is that he can leave something to wear any place he might need to have it. So, these will be his Magic Box clothes. Just put them in the weapon closet or somewhere he can find them if he has to change here. I’m going to collect some more tonight or tomorrow to leave at my mom’s and maybe your apartment. Any places he might find himself stuck until morning.”
She picked up the sword Spike had used to get through the tunnels safely, and said, “I’ll take this with us, though. Just in case.” She frowned at the way Spike was clinging to her shoulder, which didn’t seem very stable as he was clearly protecting the broken wing.  “Maybe we should hold that wing down somehow? I think it really helped that his bad shoulder was inside a tight tee shirt all day. I’ll bet it would be good for the wing too. What do you think, Spike?”
He nodded against her face and huddled close to her neck.
“Not only is that probably an excellent idea, but it would probably be better for helping that wing…or shoulder… to heal if it was not only immobilized, but if he wasn’t risking jostling it by trying to hold on to you. Wait here a moment.”
Leaving them in the training room, he disappeared into the shop, returning soon with scissors, an Ace bandage, and a small box. “Let’s try this, shall we?” When Spike clearly growled at his approach, Giles handed the bandage material to Buffy. “Here. It seems he isn’t as tame as he appears,” he sniffed as though offended by the bat’s rejection.
Buffy took Spike off her shoulder and set him back on the mats. She took the scissors and cut a small strip of bandage. “Okay, Spike. I’m going to try to wrap your wing. If it hurts or I make it too tight, just say something.”
He gazed at her, his bright little eyes so full of trust that it made her uncomfortable. She bit her lip and carefully tried to strap his injured wing against his body without interfering with his use of the left one. Which turned out to be tricky, as the wings were attached to almost his entire little torso. She made one wrap around his lower abdomen, then decided it would be better to wrap it up and over his good shoulder. She frowned, then smiled at him in what she hoped looked like a reassuring fashion, as she brought the stretchy bandage around, up, and over again until she felt it was secure enough to tie off.
“Is that okay? It isn’t too tight is it?” Buffy tried to slip a finger between the fabric and his soft lower belly, flinching when he gave a little squeak.  “I’m sorry! Did that hurt?”
Bat-Spike shook his head vigorously and Buffy was suddenly reminded of his gasp when she’d brushed the skin of his stomach that morning when he was in his normal form. She flushed and pulled her finger away.
“Sorry,” she muttered. “I didn’t think….”
He looked up and nudged her hand gently.
“Does that mean it’s okay? You aren’t mad at me?”
He nodded, and Buffy looked at Giles with excitement.  “We communicated! Now I know how he says okay!”
Not having a clue what Buffy apologized for, and assuming it had to do with causing Spike pain, Giles smiled his agreement. “It’s a beginning,” he said. “Yes, no, and ‘it’s all right’ are a good start. Perhaps, as you experiment this evening, you will find ways for him to communicate important things that can warn you of dangers.”
“Like the bat version of ‘Duck’!” Buffy laughed, but Giles just nodded his head. “Exactly!”
Spike gave a short squeak, waited, then repeated it until Buffy said, “Is that ‘duck’?” He nodded and she beamed at him. “You can talk! I just need to learn the words you’re using.” Her smile faded. “I kind of suck at languages… this might be harder than I thought.”
Giles shook his head. “I shouldn’t think so. You’ve had no trouble picking up on his physical cues, and it’s not like you’ll be having lengthy conversations. A few more simple sounds like that one should be all you’ll need. Perhaps, when Spike is in his own form, you and he can work out a small vocabulary of sounds with meaning.”
“I guess that’s our cue to head for Mom’s to show her how harmless Spike is as a bat—” There was a tiny growl from Spike, who was glaring at her from his place on the mats.  “Get over it,” she said, smiling to take the sting out of her words. “You’re not dangerous and you’re not even scary. You’re just adorable and harmless.” She stroked a finger across his head in what she hoped was a soothing manner.
Spike’s response was to nip at her finger with his tiny fangs, causing her to wince, but not drawing blood.
“He bit me!”  She glared at the little creature staring at her defiantly. “I guess that answers your chip question, Giles.”
“So it seems,” he said thoughtfully. “So it seems….” Shaking himself and muttering, “something else to worry about,” he handed Buffy the small box, which she could now see was a sort of wooden cage. “I’d suggest you carry him in this if you can. There is less chance of something happening to him than if he is clinging to your clothing with only one ‘hand’.”
“It’s a cage, Giles!”
“And he is, temporarily or not, a wild animal. A crippled wild animal and unable to defend himself or even to avoid danger. I’m sure he’ll be fine with it.”
He avoided looking at Spike, whose glittering blue eyes, and muttered squeaks were making it obvious exactly how not fine he was with the idea of being in a cage, but when he tried to walk across the mat and lost his balance, saved from a fall only by Buffy’s slayer speed, he stopped complaining and with a sigh, allowed Buffy to place him in the box with bars and a roof. He hunkered down in one corner and refused to look at either one of them.
Buffy rolled her eyes at his behavior, but carefully picked up the cage and walked toward the exit.
“We’ll come back tomorrow and tell you what we’ve worked out.”
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