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Caution: Children At Play

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Chapter Eight

After all the introductions were made Joyce offered refreshments for everyone. Only the two vampires didn't follow her into the kitchen.

Spike glared at his grandsire. "I don't want you here."

Angel smiled. "I wouldn't have missed this opportunity for the entire world."

Spike could tell he was really enjoying this. "I hate you," he grumbled.

Angel reached down and rubbed his hair. "Calm down there, sport."

Spike balled his fists. He knew his grandsire was trying to bait him, but he had never been one for self-control. His temper was even closer to the surface these days.

"Why're you here, Peaches?"

Spike wished he was taller so that he could reach that smug face and punch him. It was bad enough that he was vertically challenged as an adult but now all kiddie-sized it was much worse.

"I came because Buffy needed me."

"Buffy doesn't want you here," Spike hissed.

"You keep telling yourself that, Willie."

Spike stamped his foot with frustration. "You always come and steal my things? Dru was my girl and you kept stealing her. And Buffy is my -"

"She's not your girl," Angel interjected.

Spike found himself backtracking quickly. "I know. She's my enemy, who's a girl and I play with sometimes."

Angel burst into laughter. "Oh Spike. You're the one that goes after my women not the other way around. Oh, it's so pathetic, it's funny."

"You could just have sent Sparkles. It's not like you'll be much help. The last time you were here you made her cry."

Angel's grin grew even bigger. "Oh, I've figured it out. Little Spikey's got a crush on Buffy."

"No I don't," Spike protested.

"But you do," Angel sneered. "But you have to know she'll never give you the time of day when she's back to normal. You've no soul. Buffy' s better than that."

"You've got it all wrong."

Angel was about to start lecturing him again, when he was saved by the arrival of Buffy with a mug of blood each for them. The rest of the chattering occupants of the house started to gather in the living room once more. The two vampires gratefully took the mugs from the slayer.

"What ya talking about?" she asked.

The two vampires met each other's eyes. "Nothing," Spike lied.

Buffy looked suspiciously at the elder vampire, but he just shrugged.

She abandoned the topic when neither was being forthcoming. "Mom said Giles thought you would be able to keep an eye on the house in case Rayne turns up again."

That answered the question he had been putting to his grandsire, but it didn't make his presence any more bearable.

Angel nodded importantly. "Seeing as neither of you are at full strength, you need somebody watching out."

Giles walked over to the trio hearing the conversation. "Willow and Tara's spells can only do so much. I did think it would be prudent to have someone strong and capable around."

"Hey!" Spike could see his indignation was shared by the slayer.

"I beat up Willy!" Buffy pointed out.

"And I helped," Spike felt the need to add.

"You watched," she corrected. He stuck his tongue out but immediately regretted it knowing Angel was enjoying this exchange a little too much.

Giles shook his head. "Be that as it may, Willy is called Willy the Snitch, because he is known to be a snivelling coward. Ethan is a very different kettle of fish. Besides if you both could behave yourselves then we probably wouldn't be having this conversation."

Spike met the slayer's eyes. They both knew the game was up. His ears had disappeared but the memory of them was still fresh in his mind.

Angel had been watching the whole conversation keenly. He looked surprised to see that Buffy could be mischievous when she wanted to be. "Spike's influence, I imagine," he suggested.

Joyce and Dawn walked over during the last portion of the conversation and they started to laugh loudly.

"Buffy was always a rambunctious child." Joyce smiled fondly. "She didn't need Spike's help with that. Buffy ran me ragged when she was really little."

Buffy went red. "Mom!"

Angel pinched his jaw thoughtfully. "That might be true, but I've got to be honest. I don't like the idea of Spike hanging around. He's soulless and can't be trusted."

Spike clenched his fists. The prat was talking about him like he wasn't there.

Dawn snorted. "You've no business deciding what's good for Buffy or not, since you decided what was best for her that you leave her."

Spike's dead heart swelled at the Bit defending him. Angel looked even more slacked jawed than usual.

Buffy was rolling her eyes. "She's right Angel. He hasn't been my enemy in ages, you idiot."

Spike smirked at her words.

Buffy continued, "He's been here helping when you've been in LA even if he has to get paid for it. He's the pain in the ass that I can't get rid of. He's the stinky shadow that follows me around. "

His smirk fell. "Hey!" More fool him to think that she was softening towards him but at least she was annoyed at Angel.

Lorne and Angel were conversing quietly in the corner since they came in. Spike had nothing against the jolly green demon; however, he couldn't say the same for Captain Forehead. He shot a glare in the direction of his grandsire every couple of minutes. Spike was sitting in between Dawn and Joyce on the sofa and Buffy was sitting on the floor. He knew Peaches didn't like that and he would take what little he could get. He heard Giles ask Angel to come outside into the porch. He watched as the vampire got up leaving the room. Spike was so distracted by listening into the conversation between Giles and Angel, he hadn't noticed Lorne coming over to him and Buffy.

"Earth to Spike," Buffy was saying and waving her hands in his face.

"Bloody hell," Spike muttered.

Joyce nodded at Dawn. "Let's go and make dinner and leave Lorne to talk with Spike and Buffy."

Lorne smiled at the ladies as they left. He turned back to Spike and Buffy then. "So, do you kids think you can sing your uncle Lorne a song?"

Both Spike and Buffy were less then pleased at the moniker, which made the demon backtrack a little. "Sorry, I haven't met you all before and I'm having difficulty imagining you little cuties all growed up."

"Not helping," Buffy said.

Spike had enough. "What the bloody hell do you want?" He went into game face and Buffy punched him on the arm with an annoyed glare. "There's no need to be mean," she scolded.

"I'm evil," he mumbled. There had been no need for it though as Lorne didn't even flinch. Being in this child's body really sucked; he couldn't work up a good scare anymore. Even with the chip he could still be intimidating to humans and he could wreak havoc with any demon.

Lorne cleared his throat. "I have a special talent and it might be able to help you get back to your normal selves. I need you both to sing me a tune."

Spike looked at him incredulously. "You've got to be kidding me!"

"Just sing him a line of a song," came Angel's voice. Spike turned baleful eyes on him once more and noticed that he had brought Giles with him back into the house.

The watcher fiddled with his glasses as he was wont to do when he was frustrated. "Angel is right. This is why I called him. Willow told me about Lorne. She met him the last time she was in Los Angeles."

Spike shook his head. "I'm not singing a sodding song." He had some pride. It might not be much but he was determined to hang on to the little he had.

"Me either." Buffy put her hand on her hips as well. "I'm with Spike on this one."

Spike gave Angel a smug grin. So there Peaches.

Lorne sighed. "You need to sing so I can read you. If you sing for me I might be able to tell how you can get out of those little bodies and back into your adult selves."

Giles rolled his eyes impatiently. "Do you want to remain little forever and grow up again? Besides, Spike you may never grow up. Imagine being an undead child forever. At least Buffy has a chance at growing up. This might be your only chance to figure this out. I didn't believe you could possibly be more annoying than you already were. Yet as a child you truly are the spawn of Satan."

Buffy let out a giggle at that.

Giles pointed a finger at her. "And you are a whiny pain in the arse."

That shut her up. It was Spike's turn to smirk this time.

Lorne sighed loudly and turned to Giles and Angel. "You two are not helping. Maybe you two should back off and let me talk to them. I've been told I'm good with children."

Spike and Buffy met each other's eyes in mutual disdain. Angel and Giles left the room.

Lorne sat down on the sofa next to Spike and Buffy sat on his other side. "I own a nightclub and people come there from all over for me to read their aura. I'm good at it and I might be able to help you if you let me."

Spike turned to look at Buffy and he could see her resolve was wavering. "Maybe we should," she said softly. Truth be told his own resolve was waning too. The idea of being in this sodding body forever wasn't fun at all.

"Fine. " Spike threw his hands in air. "As long as, it's only us three. I'm not having anybody else listening in."

"Well hallejullah!" Lorne beamed at them.

Spike was scowling and Lorne patted him on the shoulder. "Here's a little story that might make you feel a little better about it. Angel sung for me once and let me tell you that is an experience I never want to repeat."

Lorne was right. It did make Spike feel a little better. "Did he sing Barry Manilow?"

"He murdered "Mandy" and it was vicious."

"Who's Mandy?" Buffy scrunched her nose in confusion. "Was he Angelus then?

""Mandy" is one of Manilow's best known songs," Lorne explained with a grin. "Now, any ideas for a song."

Spike sighed noisily. "Bloody hell! Let's just get this over and done with."

Buffy turned to Spike with a gleam in her eye. "What about something from New Kids on the Block or the Backstreet Boys?"

Spike knew she was only half teasing him. "No bloody way! If I'm going to make a fool out of myself I've got to sing a proper song. The Ramones or The Clash?"

"Your proper songs are just noise," she retorted. "I don't know any of them."

An exasperated Lorne was rubbed at his temple. "For goodness sake can you just decide already?"

Buffy rolled her eyes. "I have an idea. How about a Michael Jackson song?"

Spike shook his head and put his arms across his chest.

"Ah come on, Spike," she wheedled. "Everybody loves Michael Jackson and we can even sing "Bad". It would be fun."

She pouted for good measure and he felt his resolve weaken.

"Bloody bossy boots," he murmured.

"Hey, did you just call me a bossy boots?"

"No," he exclaimed horrified at the childish words that kept leaking out of him at the most inappropriate time. Buffy would never leave him forget it. That was the straw that broke the camel's back. He was going to sing even if he was completely mortified. At least when he was returned to his adult body then he could forget all about this whole embarrassing week.

"You're insufferable," he said determined to speak properly and not like a child. He sighed dramatically. "Can you remember the words then?"

"Let's start from the chorus. One – two – three."

The two started to sing: Buffy with enthusiasm and Spike with resignation. Once they were finished singing Lorne smiled wistfully at them. "Good news and bad news. The good news is that when you're both back to your adult selves come back and see me. The bad news is there is nothing I glean with regard to your case of kiditis."

Spike kicked at the chair in anger and knocked it over. "You mean I've sung a ditty for nothing. Bloody hell."

Buffy started to giggle.

"What?"

"Spike – I didn't know you could sing that high."

Spike knew he would be red if he wasn't a vampire. "I'm all kiddie-sized ain't I? The voice isn't broken and all that. I couldn't sing like that since I was a rugrat."

Buffy eyes sparkled mischievously. "I don't know. Your voice gets kinda high when I kick you in the nuts."

Lorne chuckled, while Spike sent a withering glare at the slayer. Why did she have to be so high and mighty all the time, putting him down?

"Seriously though," Lorne continued. "Make sure you call me when you're all growed up. There's a message I need to give you."

Spike scoffed, "There won't be any point if you can't reverse this bloody spell."

The day went from bad to worse. Angel was walking around the Summers' home like he owned it; the superhero who came to save the day. It made Spike sick to the stomach to see Buffy paying too much attention to the idiot. Spike and Dawn were sitting cross legged on the floor of the living room playing a game of cards. Dawn had planted herself firmly on Spike's camp and the pair of them were taking turns in making jokes at Angel's expense.

"I can hear you, you know," Angel said.

"I know," Spike and Dawn replied in unison.

Joyce tutted. "Stop making fun of Angel. It's not nice."

"But it's fun," Spike snarked.

"Now, you stop that young man." Joyce waved her finger at him. "I'm disappointed at your behaviour tonight. Angel has come to help and he deserves your respect."

Spike pursed his lips and crossed his arms at the rebuke. He was humiliated in front of Angel and he had an urge to bawl his eyes out. He shook off the urge, knowing he couldn't give Peaches the satisfaction. It was bad enough for this grandsire to see him like this. He was very stung by Joyce's defence of Angel. He had been quite sure she didn't like his grand sire at all. He was supposed to be her favourite vampire.

Trying not to show how affected he was, Spike asked, "Why haven't Red and Glinda been around?"

Joyce frowned. "I suppose they have been busy with all the research."

"They were the only one's who'd play games with us," he said. "You're too busy at work and the Watcher is too busy yelling at us."

The woman smirked at him. "Aren't you always reminding us that you're not really kids?"

He pouted at that. Whatever it was about Joyce, it was even harder to remember he wasn't really a rugrat when she was around. She had a way of mothering him and even as an adult vampire she reminded him of his mother, but he was still mad at her for embarrassing him in front of Peaches.

Spike crept silently around the living room. So much for Angel's hero role, the dark haired vampire was fast asleep in the armchair. Spike was determined to show them all he was better than Angel. He was going to find this Ethan bloke himself and end this nonsense once and for all. He didn't think through how he could manage that being all bite sized, but then he was at his best when winging it. His plans never really seemed to work anyway, although he was aware that was mainly due to his impatience rather than his incapability of thinking up a good plan. He pushed open the door, pausing for a moment and making sure Peaches was still sleeping. Once he was satisfied, he let the door close softly behind him. Spike relished the freedom of being outside once again. He and Buffy were in lockdown since their last escapades. Maybe there would be clues in his crypt? He was shorter and therefore closer to the ground, maybe the Scooby gang missed out on something. It wasn't far from here. He tried to ignore his sense of unease as he entered Restfield.

"I'm a Big Bad, an evil vampire," he muttered to himself.

Despite his attempt at bravado, he gasped when he saw a large, burly demon with curling red horns like a bull. His skin was the colour of cement and he had black eyes. Spike froze in his tracks and gulped.

"Hi there, little fella," said the demon, "What's a little boy like you doing wandering the streets at this hour?"

The boy felt a prick of fear at the huge demon towering over him. What am I doing? I'm a vampire. "Not a little boy," he roared before he went into game face and growled, catching the demon by surprise. He watched in satisfaction at the slack jawed expression and took off at speed before the demon could regain his senses. Yeah, I'm still bad. He smirked as he ran full pelt. When he finally reached the crypt, he threw himself down on the sarcophagus exhausted. His little body wasn't as strong as his adult body. When he had rested for a few minutes he went down the bottom part of his crypt and looked around for anything out of place. He found nothing and went back up to the upper level to check there. He was disappointed to have nothing to show for his walkabout. He knew he couldn't afford to wait around any longer. Angel could wake up any minute to find him gone or perhaps he had even woken up already. He grinned widely when he spotted the skull, he used as an ashtray, just where he left it.

"Hmm that could be interesting," he said aloud, a plan forming in his mind.

He ran back to Revello Drive as fast as his little legs could carry him. He crept back in the house through the window he had left ajar. He was relieved to see Captain Forehead was still sleeping and didn't notice he had company. He jumped as Buffy leapt out in front of him.

"Where have you been?"

He stuck out his tongue. "Out for a walk."

She puffed up indignantly. "I'm telling."

He grabbed her arm roughly. "Don't! I have a much better idea that I think you would like."

She arched a brow. "You have one minute to convince me."

"Don't you think Peaches should be awake not sleeping?" Spike asked. "I never should have been able to get out of the house."

"I guess so," she said, sounding bored. "What does this have to do with your plan exactly? Time's ticking, Spikey."

"What if we were to teach him a lesson?" Spike suggested.

"Spill, Spike. I'm getting impatient." She tapped her watch.

"We let him think I'm dust," Spike explained. "I found some ashes in my crypt and if we place it carefully we could let him think he has let me get dusted."

He pulled out a cigarette box from his pocket and Buffy looked inside and sure enough there was ashes inside.

"Spike, that's kind of mean," Buffy said.

"Ah come on, Slayer," Spike begged. "He deserves it. Remember what he did to you? He broke your heart. Besides, no one gets hurt. It's just a joke. Evil and inspired? Sure, but just a joke."

"Spike, it's a pretty awful thing to do."

Spike groaned. "First good plan I've had in a while and you have to tear it apart."

"I didn't say no," she said.

Spike punched the air and Buffy stifled a giggle.

"We can just put it outside on the porch, knock a few things about like there was a struggle and I'll go hide," Spike said.

"Under my bed," she ordered. "I'll put out the ashes on the porch and then I'll go wake Angel, telling him you're missing."

She looked at Angel. "I can't believe he fell asleep like this. Anything could have happened."

Spike felt a sense of satisfaction at her annoyance at Angel. Perhaps the Slayer was coming to her senses about Tall, Dark and Brooding at last. There heard a noise from across the room. They turned to look at Angel, who had moved in his sleep.

Buffy pushed Spike in the direction of the stairs. "Now go!"

Spike crept into Buffy's room and slid under the bed. He listened very carefully to what was going on downstairs.

"Angel! Wake up!" Buffy was saying.

There was a thumping sound and Spike guessed Angel must have knocked something over in fright.

"What's wrong, Buffy?" Angel asked.

Spike clucked his tongue. Peaches really thought he was the big hero.

"Spike's gone and I don't know where he is."

Spike had to hand it to Buffy; she was a superb actress.

Angel was trying to reassure her. "I'm sure he's around here somewhere. You know it's hard to get rid of a bad thing."

Spike had to clamp his mouth shut to prevent a growl. He clenched his fists hard. This was going to serve Peaches right.

"Could he have left the house?" Buffy asked innocently. "Surely you would have heard him, right?"

"Sure, I would," Angel said gruffly.

"I have checked everywhere," Buffy insisted.

"Let's check again," Angel said.

He listened to the sound of the two going from room to room in the house. They weren't making much noise, careful not to wake the rest of the occupants. Spike figured Angel was saving face and hoping to solve the matter, before everyone else got to find out about his carelessness.

"I can still smell him," Angel said, "I think he can't have gone far."

They walked into Buffy's room as expected and he was relieved when Buffy said she would check under the bed.

She winked at him as she put her head down. "No, he's not there, Angel. Maybe we should outside in the front and back."

"The little brat," Angel snarled. "I'm going to kill him."

If Spike didn't know better, he would have thought there was real concern in his tone. Spike waited until he heard the front door slam and got out of the bed and went over to the window, which was ajar. Angel was staring at the ground. Spike smirked and decided to announce his continuing unlife. He jumped out of the window and landed right on top of Angel. His grandsire's mouth was open doing an imitation of a fish and Spike took a swing at him.

"That's for saying it's difficult for getting rid of a bad thing."

Angel pulled him and held him away from his body. "You little bastard. I thought you were dead."

"Actually, already dead-" Spike said, before he was interrupted by a surprising hug.

Spike briefly relaxed into the embrace before they both caught themselves and pulled away embarrassed. Buffy looked amused and let out a little laugh. This seemed to remind Angel of the Slayer's presence.

Angel turned to Buffy with narrowed eyes. "Were you involved in this?"

Buffy went bright red and Angel shook his head disbelievingly.

"I'm going to have to tell on you both," he said.

Spike smirked. "Then you would have to tell Joyce you fell asleep on watch, when you were meant to me making sure her daughter was safe. She tried to hit me with an axe once, so I wouldn't recommend you being on the wrong side of her. She's a tough lady."

"And for some reason, she does seem to like Spike," added Buffy.

Spike beamed at her words. Maybe today was going to be a better day, after all? He could see the sun was starting to rise. He had better go inside before he really was dust.

To be continued..