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Next Chapter: Chapter 5

This was unnatural.  He was a vampire, for god’s sake.  Halloween was like Christmas to them- stay home and do nothing.  But here he was, carrying a plastic axe, ready to play ‘huntsman’ to Buffy’s Little Red Riding Hood.

He’d paged her the day before when he realized he had no idea what to wear.  From how quickly she suggested the costume, Spike was pretty sure she’d been thinking about it a lot. He pointedly didn’t focus on how giddy that thought made him. He wasn’t the type to do a real costume, so he was grateful she’d suggested something where he could wear his own clothes and just have a prop.

‘Unlike those guys,’ he thought to himself as he passed a group of men dressed like soldiers.  They smelled a little off, but he didn’t think much of it.  Who knows, maybe they grew ‘em funny on the Hellmouth.

Buffy, for her part, was too busy floating on cloud nine to think about much else as she walked.  She had a boyfriend- a real boyfriend.  And he was sexy and worldly and even though they didn’t know much about each other’s pasts, they connected deeply about everything they did know.  And Buffy wanted to know everything.  All of him.  She’d even gone to a bookstore to get a copy of the book he’d mentioned, Persuasion, when she and her mom went shopping. He was fascinating and deep and… her thoughts trailed off as she pictured his eyes.

He was just arriving when she walked up.  When he saw her, he grabbed her hand and pointed his finger down.  She took the hint and twirled like a ballerina, giggling.

“You look lovely, Buffy.”

Buffy blushed, but was cut off from responding by Willow’s enthusiasm. “We’re just missing Anya now. Xander have you heard from her?” “Oh, yeah, she said to go ahead into the party and she’ll meet us there. I guess she’s having some trouble finding a scary costume.” “Did you too?” Buffy asked Xander, taking in his tux with a raised brow.

“No, I’m Bond.  James Bond.  In case that thing happens with the costumes again,” he side-eyed Spike, who was too focused on staring at his date to notice. “I’m going for cool secret agent guy.” “I think you’re more like cool head waiter guy.” Oz chimed in.

Buffy laughed, then turned to Willow.  “You’re… what, medieval?” “I’m Joan of Arc!  You know, almost burned at the stake, and that whole close relationship with God.” “Who are you, then?” Spike asked Oz with a smirk.

Oz shifted his shirt to show off his “Hi, My Name Is: God” sticker.  Spike chuckled and pointed the axe at him, “Man after my own heart- keepin’ the costume nice and simple.” “The all black doesn’t hurt the huntsman vibe you’ve got going on either,” Buffy added, looking him over appreciatively.

As they began to walk towards the house, Buffy leaned up to whisper in Spike’s ear. “Have I told you that coat makes you look damn sexy?” “Ta, pet. Maybe someday you’ll see how much better it looks on the floor.”  He said with an appreciative leer.

Buffy’s face flushed, but she held her own with that fire he was coming to adore so much. “Promises, promises.” “Hold up a mo’. Your classes start late on Thursdays, right?” Spike asked, pulling her to a stop just outside the door to the frat house.

“Yeah, why?”  Buffy was curious; Spike’s voice sounded almost… anxious? It was a far cry from the incredibly confident man she’d come to know, but that just endeared him to her more.  He was letting her in a little, again.

“Wednesday night, let me take you on a real date.  Sunset dinner on the beach, just the two of us.  I’ll plan everything so you don’t have to worry at all.” Buffy’s smile was radiant.  “That sounds amazing.  I’ve never really done the date thing before, if I’m honest.  Closest I’ve come is our coffee date.” “Well, I’ll just have to be sure to give you an evening you’ll never forget.”  He beamed down at her.  “Now how about we go catch up to those friends of yours?” He asked, stepping backwards and opening the door for her.

The couple had to stop abruptly to avoid running into the group.

“Seems a little… empty?” Spike ventured.

Xander just shrugged, “We were just wondering that.”

“Follow the signs,” Oz replied, taking the lead.

They walked forward, coming to a very obviously fake severed head on a string.  Buffy chuckled.

“Scary.”

“Terrifying.” Spike agreed, deadpan.

“If I were Abbott and Costello this would be downright traumatic.” Buffy quipped, earning a grin from Spike as he wrapped his arm around his date and squeezed.

They made it about two feet down the hallway before Willow shrieked. “Ah! Cobweb!” She pulled the decoration off of her. ”Okay, that part was realistic.” “Frat boys aren’t too obsessive with their cleaning. Might not be a decoration per se,” Oz replied, squeezing his girlfriend’s hand.

They’d rounded the corner before the next incident- a plastic skeleton with a knife swung out in front of them, making Xander jump about 20 feet.  At the group’s laughter he groused, “I wasn’t scared. I was in the spirit.” Spike clapped his hand on Xander’s shoulder. “Keep tellin’ yourself that, mate.” They went to move forward, but Oz held back, his eye on Willow’s shoulder. “What,” Willow asked, before following Oz’s gaze to the very much alive tarantula on her shoulder.  “Get it off!” Her jumping and yelling seemed to have done the trick, because Oz gave her the all clear.

“Okay, that is NOT sanitary,” Buffy said with a shudder.

“Let’s get to the party part of the- uh, party.,” Willow suggested.

As they went to enter the next room, Oz stopped. “I thought this led to…” Spike’s nostrils flared, smelling the air.  Buffy pushed passed the group, taking charge easily. “Blood.” She smelled her fingers. “Real blood.” Spike stifled a laugh at the look on Xander’s face when he exclaimed, “Okay, actual creeps have been given.” He gestured to the room, “Bravo, frat boys!” Buffy stood, shushing her friend and boyfriend. “Shh!  Do you hear something?  Like a – squeaking noise?” Xander, clueless as ever, jumped in. “Oh, it’s these rented shoes, patent leather.  I asked the guy to…” He trailed off.

Willow corrected him. “No, no, I – wait.  It’s something else.  I hear it, too.  Something like…” “Bats.” Spike finished, leading them all to look up at the ceiling which was suddenly covered in live bats. As if triggered by their discovery, the bats took off en-mass down the hallway.  The whole group dropped quickly, with accompanying squeals from the girls and Xander.

When they stood up, Oz noticed something on the ground.

Willow tried to stop him from picking it up. “No, Oz, don’t, it might be…” “Rubber.  It’s made of rubber.” Oz showed the fake bat to the group.

“What the hell is going on here?” Buffy sounded annoyed as she looked around the room.

“Don’t rightly know, pet.” Spike squeezed her hand reassuringly. He was impressed by how well she was handling all of this, but he wasn’t sure it would last.  After all, she wasn’t even native to the Hellmouth- even a few years of experience being surrounded by the supernatural might not be enough.

Xander decided to pick up the clueless bit again, “Look, maybe it’s nothing.  Maybe it’s just a neat trick.  You know, something done with wires or…” A loud voice rang out, sounding as if coming from the very walls of the house. “Release me!” “Or it might be something else,” Xander conceded.

“Think maybe we should get out of here,” Spike said.

Everyone agreed, although Buffy was begrudging- Halloween on the Hellmouth, of course she was going to have to ditch her date to slay something. They all turned to leave, making their way back towards the entrance.  When they arrived they were met with a shocking sight.

“Where are the stairs?” Xander questioned over the din of the stereo system.

“Where’s the DOOR?” Willow replied.

Buffy looked around, confused. “This is the way we came in, right? We turned right around.” Oz noticed Spike twitching whenever a scream came from the ‘spooky noise’ soundtrack playing loudly throughout the room, and flipped a switch to turn it off.

“Ta, mate.” He turned to Buffy.  “This is definitely where we came in.” “Maybe we should split up and look around- Willow and Oz you guys go back the way we came, Spike, you stay with Xander here in case the door opens back up. I’ll go check out this other hallway.” Willow and Oz immediately followed her directions- Buffy was definitely the leader of this group, Spike noted. He, however, wasn’t about to let Buffy go off on her own.  Bad enough he wouldn’t be able to protect all of them from whatever was happening with them split up.

“Buffy, I think Xander can stay here on his own. We have no clue what you’ll find in that hallway, let me come with you.” He tried to sound caring and logical at the same time.

Buffy bit her lip and debated for a minute. “Okay, but stay close to me. You’ll be alright, Xan?” “Yeah, Buff. I’ll come get you if anything changes out here.”  Spike could tell the boy wasn’t thrilled about his assignment, but he respected Buffy enough to listen.  The group dynamic with her friends was interesting.

Buffy and Spike took off down the hallway, holding hands. That only lasted a moment before Buffy was rushing off to investigate a noise in one of the rooms.  He tried to catch back up, but the door slammed in his face.

“Bloody hell.” He cursed, punching and kicking at the door. When he realized he wasn’t going to get through, he turned and slid his back down the door until he sat outside it. “Balls.” Buffy whirled around as the door slammed shut, beating on it from her end and yelling for Spike. “Should’ve insisted he stay with Xander, what was I thinking…” She berated herself under her breath. “If he gets hurt it’ll be my fault.” When she finally turned back around, she noticed she was in what looked like exactly the same hallway. “Great- haunted house complete with warp-y doors.” She decided to try to go back through the same door she’d gone in to get here- maybe it would spit her back out? Instead, she panicked as her step didn’t meet with a floor. She tried to catch her balance but it was too late, and she fell into the room.

She stood up and looked around. “What is this, the damn Winchester Mystery House? Stairs are usually a useful part of a basement.” “All alone.” A voice rang out into the dark.

“Who said that?” Buffy’s question was demanding- she was in full slayer mode.

Her eyes snapped to the figure, barely visible in the dim light. His neck was bent at a strange angle, and he dragged his leg as he limped towards her.

“They all ran away from you. You pushed them all away. They’ll die because of you. You open your heart to someone and they leave you, it’s how it always goes.” Buffy backed away from the figure until she was pressed against the wall. It didn’t stop moving towards her, however. “But don’t fret, little girl. You’re not alone… anymore.” As if signaled by his last word, hands shot out of the dirt of the basement floor and grabbed her legs. She screamed and struggled against them, trying and failing to kick them all away.

“No matter how hard you fight, you always wind up in the same place. I don’t see why you bother,” the figure said conversationally.

If she’d been anyone else the voice might have gotten to her. She might have given up and stopped fighting.  But she wasn’t anyone else- she was Buffy Summers, the goddamn Vampire Slayer. She wasn’t about to let a haunted house take her out.

She managed to make some progress forward, eyes falling on a door on the wall across from her that wasn’t there before. She crawled forward, reaching desperately for the doorknob.  When her hand found it she used it to pull herself free of the mob of hands grabbing at her and went through the door, slamming it shut behind her.

~

Spike had been drawn away from the door where Buffy disappeared by a faint voice from the room across the hall, calling his name.  His real name.

“William! William!”

He followed the voice, not flinching when the door slammed shut behind him. “Figures.” He took in the room- not much out of the ordinary, except for a small figure huddled in the corner.

“’Lo? You alright?”

“William…” The voice spoke once again.

“I don’ know who you are, but I go by Spike.” He wasn’t sensing a heartbeat- maybe this was a ghost?

“Don’t you recognize me, William?”

“No, I don’t, stop hiding in the corner and show yourself.” Spike was losing his patience fast.

He waited for a moment before giving up and starting to walk towards it. It was as if he’d triggered something, and whatever it was began to move.  It was definitely human-shaped, but it moved strangely. On all fours, limbs sticking out at odd angles and head twitching inhumanly. Its face was covered by long, scraggly hair.

Spike backed up, keeping his eye on the thing. He managed to keep himself together, until the face caught the light just as a twitch cleared the hair out of the way.  He stumbled backwards, falling to the ground.

“No, no. This isn’t real. This can’t be real. Strange ghostie preying on our fears, that’s all.” The thing responded, voice raspy. “Keep telling yourself that, William. I am as you made me.” “You’re not my mother.” He tried to sound commanding, but his voice shook.

“You’re right. I’m just the monster you made me into. You get to see the demon you shoved inside of me.” “Bollocks. You can’t be. I dusted that demon.” “You were selfish, William. Even dusted I’m still here. Evidence of your inability to be a man and stand on your own.” Spike had pushed himself up against the wall, but the creature wearing his mother’s face still advanced. It crawled over him, shoving its face right up against his.  He turned his head away, finally breaking and shutting his eyes, hoping it might go away.

~

Meanwhile, Buffy found herself in a room with what looked like a summoning seal painted on the floor.  The next thing she noticed were the figures cowering in the corners of the room.  She approached the first one, recognition giving way to relief.

“Oz?” She asked.

Right then, Willow ran into the room, plowing into Buffy.  She caught her friend in a hug, soothing her as she screamed at something invisible to get off of her.

“Wills, you’re okay.” She tried to soothe, passing the job onto Oz when he approached.

They all turned around as Xander’s voice rang out from across the room.  He was sitting on a chair, rocking himself. “I’d offer my opinion but you jerks aren’t gonna hear it anyway. Not that ‘didn’t go to college’ boy has anything important to say.  I might as well hang out my new best friend, bleeding dummy head, for all you dorks care.” “Xan, snap out of it!” Buffy yelled, snapping her fingers in his face.

“Wait, you heard that? You can see me?!”

The group nodded in confirmation.

“Oh, thank god. I went after Will and Oz and they were there, but they couldn’t see or hear me.” “The house was trying to scare us.” Oz put forward.

“But we got away!” Willow chimed in, before looking around.  Her face fell. “Spike’s not here though- you guys got separated, Buffy?” “Yeah, but I’d guess he’s alright. I think we all got so scared we ended up here for some reason.” Although she tried to hide it, her friends could all hear the worry in her voice.

“They were painting this while I set up the sound system earlier.” Oz looked around for a moment before finding what he was looking for. “It came from this book.” Willow snatched it from him.  “It’s Gaelic- I think I can translate.” “Release me…. release me!” The voice rang out seemingly from the walls of the house itself.

“It’s a summoning spell for something called…” She paused, sounding it out. “Gachnar. This is his mark. Somehow the beginning of the spell must have been triggered. It’s trying to manifest itself.” “How?” Buffy half asked/half demanded.

She took a moment, mouthing some words as she continued to translate. “It’s feeding on our fear!” “Okay, so we need to calm down and get everyone out.  If we aren’t afraid it won’t have the energy to mani-” Buffy’s command was cut off by the sudden appearance of Giles and Anya through the door. “fest.” “Giles?  Everyone, it’s Giles!  With a chainsaw!” Xander exclaimed, tapping into his knack for pointing out the obvious. Anya then ran over to him, giving him a hug. “Glad you could make it,” he laughed.

“The walls closed up behind us. What do we know?” Giles asked, before spotting Willow and rushing over to look at the book she held. “Gachnar, of course.  Its presence infects the reality of the house, but it’s not managed to achieve full manifestation.  We cannot allow this to come into being.” Ever the pragmatist, Buffy spoke up. “But if it does, I can fight it, right?” Giles walked over, pointing to an illustration in the book. “Buffy, this is Gachnar.” Buffy shuddered. “I don’t want to fight that.  So, we break the spell.” Giles flipped frantically through the book. “I have it, I have it. Uhm, ‘The summoning spell for Gachnar can be shut down in one of two ways.  Destroying the mark of Gachnar-” Before he could finish, Buffy took the initiative and stomped on the seal, smashing through the floorboards and breaking the mark. Her proud smile only lasted a moment as Giles continued. “Is not one of them and will in fact immediately bring forth the fear demon itself.” Everyone looked down at the now glowing mark, and all but Buffy backed away.  The floor rumbled and suddenly the demon appeared.  Just as scary as the illustrationExcept it was tiny.

Buffy stifled a laugh. “This is Gachnar?”

Gachnar spoke up.  “I am the dark lord of nightmares! The bringer of terror! Tremble before me. Fear me!” Willow didn’t have much success holding back her laughter. “He – he’s so cute!” Gachnar looked up, indignant. “Tremble!” “Who’s a little fear demon?  Come on!  Who’s a little fear demon!” Xander wiggled his finger at the demon, crouching down.

Giles sighed. “Don’t taunt the fear demon.”

“Why, can he hurt me?”

“No, it’s just – tacky.” Giles replied. “Buffy…” he gestured to the demon.

As she approached, Gachnar tried one last time. “They’re all going to abandon you, you know.” Buffy rolled her eyes. “Yeah, yeah.” And with that, she smashed him with her shoe.

As soon as she did, Spike appeared, cowering against the wall in front of her.

“Oh god, Spike, are you alright?” Buffy rushed over to check on her boyfriend.

Spike’s head whipped around as he took in his surroundings. “Fine.” He said gruffly.

Buffy offered her hand, adding a tremble to her voice for effect as she spoke to him. “I- I think it’s over now. I feel like we shouldn’t stick around.” “Agreed, pet.” Spike replied with a nod. He finally noticed that the whole group was there, including an older gentleman he hadn’t met at the Bronze. “Seems I’m last to the party, huh.” Buffy’s face lit up as she looked between Giles and Spike.  “Oh! Giles! This is my boyfriend, Spike.  Spike, this is Giles.  He’s the one I told you about- the school librarian turned father-figure.” Spike cleared his throat and turned on the charm, reaching out to shake the man’s hand. “It’s nice to meet you.” “And you.” They began to leave, walking slowly down the stairs and towards the door.  Buffy and Giles fell behind, and without vampire hearing he might not have heard the exchange.

“You didn’t tell me you had a boyfriend. Certainly not an older one.” “I’m sorry, Giles. I was planning on introducing you soon.” Buffy sounded remorseful. “He isn’t so much older, really.” Spike held in a snort at that.

“I suppose it’s quite alright. Have you-”

Buffy cut him off. “No. We haven’t been dating very long.” Was she talking to her self-proclaimed father figure about sex? That was all he could think of that she would have picked up on what he meant so quickly.

The conversation cut off as Buffy scurried forward and grabbed his hand, smiling sweetly.

They’d made it down the block a little ways before Xander turned around. “Whaddyou say we crash G-man’s plans for tonight?” Giles sighed heavily. “I suppose I do have plenty of candy I didn’t get to pass out.” Buffy giggled, punching the air with her free hand. “Woo-hoo, party at Giles!” She turned to Spike. “C’mon, it’s not far.” The group chattered amongst themselves for the rest of the short walk.

Buffy spoke quietly, looking up at her boyfriend. “I’m sorry about all that insanity. Were you okay on your own?” Spike smiled, but it didn’t reach his eyes. “Yeah, love. No worries here. What about you?” “Yeah, I’m fine. It was scary, though. I’m glad something stopped it before it got worse.” Buffy gave an exaggerated shudder.

They arrived quickly, and Giles ushered waved them in. “Come on in, make yourselves at home.” Only Spike’s superior hearing caught his under the breath grumble, “Not like you don’t all anyways.” When they were all in the door, Giles passed a huge bowl of candy to Buffy before sitting down at the table with a book. The rest of the group made their way quickly to the living area, wasting no time before digging into the sweets.

Oz spoke to the man across the room. “Some quality treats here, Giles.” “Please, finish them.”   Spike chuckled at the other man’s response.

The room was quiet for a minute while they all stuffed their faces. Anya was the one to break the silence, looking Xander, who’d been staring. “What?” He gestured to the bunny costume she wore. “That’s your scary costume?” Anya responded, deadpan, “Bunnies frighten me.” It was Willow who giggled first. That broke Buffy, who buried her face in Spike’s chest to hide her laughter. Spike’s chest rumbled against her quietly. Xander made a valiant effort, but gave in fairly quickly.

He saw Anya’s indignant look and apologized. “I’m sorry, Ahn. It’s just- bunnies?” “Yes! They’ve got twitchy noses and they just seem… sinister. Like they’re plotting something.” Spike’s laughter increased in volume. “I’ve got it on good authority that bunnies are nefarious creatures.” Anya pointed at him excitedly. “See! Told you!” The laughter in the room was warm and friendly, and Buffy basked in how well her boyfriend was fitting into her life already. She leaned against him, and she couldn’t quite make herself be sorry the night had turned out how it had.


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Previous Chapter: Chapter 3
Next Chapter: Chapter 5

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