She’d gotten him out of the basement. That was step one. Gotten him cleaned up, (with some difficulty, since he absolutely refused to go into the bathroom). That was step two. Now, it was time for step three. Make him un-insane. And Buffy had absolutely no idea as to how she was going to do that.
She leaned against the closed door to her room. Spike’d been living at the Summers home for over a week, now, but still didn’t come out that often. And when he did come out of the basement (for that’s where she’d set up a makeshift home for him), he went one of two places. The kitchen, or her room. That particular morning, she’d awakened, and nearly stepped on him when she went to get up. Sometime during the night, he’d come upstairs, dragging the blue blanket from his cot, and made himself a little nest next to her bed. As a result, she’d nearly tripped over him twice before he’d finally awakened. Now, he was sitting on the side of the bed, just generally looking miserable. ‘Well,’ she thought. ‘First thing’s first. I have to make him feel better. Now. How the heck do I do that?’
He looked up, blue eyes focused on her. That was good. At least she wouldn’t have to snap her fingers in front of his nose this time. Opened his mouth, said quietly, “They aren’t here right now.”
The voices. After a week of dealing with the insane vampire constantly, she was beginning to get the hidden meanings behind his, at first glance, nonsensical ramblings. She moved to sit next to him. “That’s good.” Patted his shoulder gently. “It’s cause you’re being good. They can’t find anything to yell at you about.”
He nodded a little. “But they will come back.” It was a statement, and it was said with such finality that she winced a little. Poor Spike. It was like he’d given up hope that he’d ever be happy again.
She changed the patting of his shoulder to rubbing small, comforting circles on his back. “No they won’t. I won’t let them.”
He looked at her, a glimmer of hope in his eyes. “You won’t?”
She nodded. “Right. I’m the Slayer. I’ll protect you from them.” Scratched his back gently. “And, in return for keeping them away, you’ve got to do something for me, okay?”
“Cheer up.” At his confused look, she elaborated. “You’re so.. depressed lately. I bet that if you were in a good mood all the time, the voices wouldn’t bother you as much.”
Spike frowned. “I can’t be in a good mood. I’m bad.”
“You are not- Spike, look at me. Good boy. You are not bad.”
“I’m not happy. Can’t be happy.”
She sighed. “I wish I could help with that.” A moment of inspiration. “Maybe I can. If I- Spike, come on. Look at me. Thank you. If I could make you laugh, would you feel better?”
“I don’t feel like laughing.”
She chewed her lip a little. “I know. That’s why I have to make you.” How the heck do you make a vampire laugh? “Wanna watch a funny movie? We can see Monsters Inc. You like Monsters Inc.”
He nodded a little.
Two hours later, the movie was over, and Spike was doing a little, not much, but a little better. He’d let out little snickers twice during the film, and smiled several other times. But it wasn’t enough. Buffy knew that it wasn’t nearly enough. She’d have to do more. But what? She thought back over everything she knew about Spike. Dry, biting sense of humor. Extremely intelligent. Very insightful. Ticklish. Plays the piano, flute and violin. Writes poetry… Wait a minute. Ticklish. Spike is ticklish. She grinned. This, she could do. And it might be fun, to boot.
“Spike?”, she said, deliberately allowing a playful tone to enter her voice. The vampire looked up from where he was once again sitting on the bed. “Remember when I was invisible?” He nodded, started to say something, but she cut him off. “Remember when you were talking to Xander, and he didn’t know that I was there?” Went on after he nodded again. “Remember how I was trying to get you to react?” Ah. Now he knew what she was getting at. His blue eyes widened. She went on, walking toward him slowly, flexing her fingers. “I never did really get to play with that… I want to, now.”
He crab walked backwards on the bed, bumping into the headboard. “Buffy… No.” Shook his head. Vigorously. Maybe he wasn’t *quite* as insane as she’d thought.
“Spikey. Yes.” Pounced him, fingers immediately finding the spots on his ribs. The first sound Spike let out was a squeal. A honest to goodness squeal. This was followed by peals of laughter, loud and hard, as she continued her assault. He would try to talk, to beg her to stop, but his words kept turning into shrieks of laughter as he bucked and squirmed, trying to escape…
Or was he?
It surprised her to find that Spike wasn’t even fighting back, really. He was strong enough to toss her off him, but wasn’t. Could’ve at least pushed her away long enough to escape, but didn’t. She laughed as she came to the correct conclusion. Spike *loved* being tickled. In fact, he was squirming around, giving the impression that he wanted to escape, but in reality was just exposing more of his ticklish spots to her questing fingers. Ribs, stomach, bellybutton, armpits, she was getting him good. And probably having just about as much fun as he was. She was laughing almost as hard, anyway.
And as for the vampire in question, Buffy didn’t think she’d ever heard someone laugh like this. Especially not Spike. She was glad that Willow and Dawn had gone to the mall, because some of the sounds that Spike was making probably would’ve scared both of them. He rolled onto his stomach, and she immediately went for the backs of his ribs, where they curved to meet his spine. Turned out that his back was almost as ticklish as his stomach. He managed to get up onto his hands and knees for a moment, but a few quick pokes to his ribs, neck, and waist made him collapse to the bed and curl up into a giggling vampire pretzel.
Spike was having the time of his life. Definitely the most fun he’d had since the return of his soul, and probably in years before that. Then it got “worse”. Buffy took advantage of his new, curled up position, to spin around and attack his feet and knees. Spike howled, and jerked his legs, trying to curl up even further, but being unsuccessful. Whether he was failing on purpose or not was unclear.
By now, about half an hour had passed, and Spike was at the end of his rope. Tears streaked his face, and his sides were starting to hurt from all that laughing. Still, Buffy continued. She was now sitting on his legs, running her fingers up and down the soles of his bare feet, laughing when he twitched, squealed, and tried to curl his toes to protect himself. She looked back over her shoulder at the giggling vampire, who was now doing more panting than laughing, and grinned. “In a good mood now?”
“Ye -hehe- sss!”, Spike choked out as her nails lighting scraped up and down his instep.
“Ready for me to stop, then?” Ran a single nail in-between his toes, eliciting a bark of laughter from the vampire.
She laughed again, and stopped, rubbing his foot for a moment, to help get rid of the post tickling itchiness. She climbed off his legs, and sat next to him as he lay there, panting and struggling for composure. Scratched at his ribs and stomach, trying to help. Giggled a little. “I’m sorry.”
Spike looked up at her, with an expression that she hadn’t seen in months. A grin. A truly happy grin. “For what, luv?”
The nickname gave her pause. He hadn’t called her that since he’d been back. Hadn’t really called her anything, except Buffy, and that was rare. She smiled at him. “For torturing you so mercilessly.”
He chuckled. “No. Not torture. It was fun.”
She grinned. “Yeah. I gathered.” Cocked her head at him. “I didn’t know that you liked being tickled.”
He considered for a moment, then chuckled again. “Neither did I.”
She laughed. Well. He was doing better. A lot better! Participating in a conversation, keeping his focus on her. So far, she hadn’t even had to remind him to look at her. And none of the nervousness and fear that had been present in his eyes since he’d been back seemed to be there. It had been replaced with a look of contentment. Happiness. Definite improvement. She smiled when he yawned. “Tired?”
Yawned again. “Yeah.” Looked at her. “Can I take a nap?”
She giggled. “You don’t have to ask me. You live here, too.”
“Yeah. But it’s your room.”
Lucidity? Was it too much to hope for? “Yeah. But you’re in here so much..” Shrugged. “Go ahead. Take a nap.”
He yawned again, and moved next to her, laying his head on the pillows near her leg and closing his eyes. She smiled. This was good. Progress of any kind was of the good. And this was definite progress. From depressed and semi-broody, to happy and sleepy all in under an hour. Definite good. She stroked his hair absently as she thought. Smiled when he began purring softly. Then he spoke.
“Buffy?”, he said in a voice that said that he was VERY close to being asleep.
“Yeah?”, she responded quietly, not wanting to disturb him. Continued stroking his hair.
“I feel better, now. Thank you.”
Smiled. “You’re welcome, Spike.”
A few moments of silence, then, “Luv?”
Smile got bigger. “Yeah?”
“Can we do this again tomorrow?”