Several hours had passed since we had finished cleaning and wrapping Spike’s injuries. Both my mother and I decided that it would be a good idea to keep a steady vigil over him, watching for any changes in his condition.
So, we pulled our sleeping bags out of the attic and camped out on the floor.
I decided to take the first shift, so my mom curled up in the sleeping bag and fell into a light sleep. I knew that the slightest stirring would wake her, so I made sure to keep absolutely quiet.
After about a half-hour had passed, I got tired of laying on the floor so I moved to the chair that sat next to my window. I pulled my feet up and hugged my knees to my chest, peeking out over them to watch over the still unconscious figure in my bed.
He had not stirred since we had finished cleaning him up. The only movements that I could see from him were the steady but shallow rise and fall of his chest, and the occasional movement of his swollen eyelids. I was secretly hoping that a bit of the ‘vampire’ remained in him; that if he were to keep any aspect of his old self, his quick-healing abilities would be the part to remain.
Looking back at it now, I think that there were two aspects behind my hoping that his healing abilities remained. The first was for him, because I didn’t know now any human could survive through the pain that he must have been going through. However, the other part of my hoping was purely selfish. I hoped that his healing abilities were still intact because I didn’t know how much longer I would be able to deal with Spike being like this. I was supposed to be his enemy, not his nurse, nor his guardian, nor his caring friend.
The internal conflict that I was going through was enough to keep me from falling asleep. My human instincts were telling me to nurture and care for him, but my slayer instincts or subconscious kept telling me to be cautious and on guard, and to hide my emotions. This was still Spike after all. As a Slayer, I had always had a certain strength and advantage over him. If I let my walls down in front of him and let him see my nurturing and emotional side, then I would lose part of my advantage over him. The Slayer in me didn’t want that to happen.
Still, my human instincts were winning out, and as I saw his arm start to move and his eyelids flutter, I was instantly by his side. One of my hands instinctively went to his forehead to feel for a fever, lingering there for a while. My other hand had settled on his moving arm. After a moment or two of fluttering his eyes, he finally opened them up and they shot directly towards me.
I didn’t know what to do. Yet again.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking, and no, I’m not stupid . . . I’m just not so big on knowing how to comfort my former mortal-enemies who had recently professed their love for me. Hey, it sounds like a good excuse to me, and I should know: I am the Queen of Excuses.
His bright blue eyes were completely focused on me and he had a suspicious look on his face. I gave him a small, friendly smile to comfort him, but I think it had an opposite effect. His eyes immediately began to dart around the room, trying to take in his strange new surroundings.
When he finally returned his gaze to me, he furrowed his eyebrows when he realized that one of my hands was on his head and that the other was on his arm. I immediately pulled my hands back to myself and stood up as if I had been burned by the contact. His chest began to rise and fall more rapidly, showing that he was truly nervous underneath his stony exterior.
“Slayer,” he said quietly, his voice hoarse, “what in the bloody hell is goin’ on here?”
“I . . . Spike, you . . . I found you . . . and, with the blood . . . and warm . . . I . . .” I stammered, not able to complete a single thought.
Come on, what was I supposed to say? ‘Hey Spikey. I found you laying in a big gross pool of your own blood and I felt kinda bad, so I brought you here to Enemy Headquarters to fix your boo-boo’s.’ Yeah right.
Before I could get another word out, he interrupted me.
“Spit it out already, Slayer. Hey . . .” he said, suddenly realizing that he was in my bed, “why am I in Her Majesty’s bed? And what’s with the bloody banging noise?”
I looked around confused. “Banging noise?”
He looked at me like I was nuts.
“Are you completely daft? The banging noise! It’s all I soddin’ hear. ‘Thump Thump Thump Thump’.” He mimicked the sound somewhat loudly, instantly waking my mother. He looked at her, surprised to see her standing up to check over him. “Oh . . . ‘ello, Joyce.” He said quietly again, just completely confused by what was going on around him.
“Hello, Spike. How are you feeling?” My mom asked, checking over him like a mother hen.
“Fine, I s’pose, all things considered. Sore . . . tired . . . famished . . . and might I bring up the bloody banging noise again?” He said, trying to cover up his ears with his hands, only to stop his hands half way up to glare at the heavy bandaging on them.
“Thumping?” My mom asked, looking at me confused. I just shrugged at her. Slayer here, not a Rocket Scientist.
I watched as a scared look came upon his face. He pulled a bandage on his arm back and looked at a wound which had barely even begun to heal yet, a sure sign that something was wrong with his vampire-healing abilities. Then, he touched his skin, noting the warmth and color of it. Suddenly, his eyes grew wide. He looked up to me as he placed his had over his heart, immediately realizing where the ‘thump thump’ noise in his ears was coming from.
Yep, little Spike figured out on his own that he wasn’t quite the demon that he remembered being. He looked like he was about to start freaking out, so I quickly intervened to try to save the moment from spiraling out of control.
“UMMM, MOM,” I said loudly to get her attention, walking in her general direction, “Spike is gonna need some protein and minerals, some vitamins and iron too. Do you think you can go downstairs and get some orange juice, and maybe some eggs or beef jerky or something?”
My mom made eye contact with me and nodded, silently acknowledging that I should be alone with Spike for a few minutes. “Sure, honey.”
She left my room and closed the door behind her, obviously not wanting us to wake Dawn up from her thus far undisturbed slumber.
I turned around to look at Spike once again. His swollen eyelids were opened as wide as they could get as he stared down disbelievingly at his body.
I hesitated for a minute, trying to devise some kind of a game plan. Coming up with nothing, I decided to just ‘go with the flow’. Slowly, I made my way over to the bed and sat down next to him. My presence didn’t even seem to faze him.
My hand, as if on its own accord, slowly wandered from my side to rest atop Spike’s. The soft contact broke him out of his thoughts and he instantly turned to look at me, his eyes pleading for some kind of an answer behind unshed tears.
He wanted answers, and I had none to give him.
“I can’t explain it, Spike. I know that’s what you want me to do, but I’m really in the dark here. The only thing I can tell you is that I found you locked up in a casket in some random crypt, you asked me for help, and here we are. I was hoping that maybe you could fill in some of the blanks.” I said the words so gently, almost as if afraid that they were gonna cause him more pain.
“I . . . what’s today? How long . . . when was the last time you saw me?” He asked, keeping his gaze completely focused on me.
Instantly, the memory of our last encounter flooded my mind and I looked away from his penetrating gaze.
“Umm . . . it was the night with the ‘bondage fun’ with you, me, and Drusilla. That was about 3, maybe 4 weeks ago.” I replied shyly, feeling incredibly awkward for some reason.
I kept thinking, ‘Yeah, so what, Buffy. So the evil bloodsucking vampire proclaimed his love for you and chose you over his sire and mate. No big deal, right?’
But no matter how much I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t a big deal and that I shouldn’t feel awkward, I kept flashing back to the fact that the ‘evil bloodsucking vampire’ who proclaimed his love for me was now sitting by my side, alive and human nonetheless, and probably feeling the same feelings as he did on that night.
After a few moments of silence passed, I peeked back over at Spike to gauge his reaction. He looked as if he was deep in concentration, possibly trying to put together pieces of a puzzle.
“What do you remember?” I asked him. “Since then, I mean. Do you know how this happened, or who did it?” He wouldn’t look at me, so I ducked my head down so that I could try to look upwards at his lowered head.
“It was Drusilla.” He stated flatly, his voice barely a whisper.
Couldn’t say that I was shocked at that little revelation. Drusilla always seemed like a complete nut-job to me. I guess that when Spike picked me over her, the last ounce of sanity in her flew right out the window.
He continued speaking, looking straight ahead of him then entire time. “Said that I was a ‘naughty little Spike’, that I was lettin’ ‘William’ come through too much. ‘Only weak little William could fall for the Slayer’, she said. She tried to burn and cut him out of me . . . but we both know how useless that was. The crazy chit kept at it for days, or at least I think so . . . kept slippin’ in and out of consciousness. Last thing I remember, I looked up and saw her with some kind of a Shaman. Heard her ramble on vaguely, something ‘bout, ‘if I couldn’t be the monster that she created, I couldn’t be Spike anymore either’. The next thing I remember is you . . . saving me.”
I sat back a little, trying to take in all that he had just revealed. Drusilla, the so-called love of his un-dead life, had him turned into a human.
Now, I can’t help but wonder . . . what kind of a lame-ass punishment is that?!? If she really wanted to punish him, she should’ve staked him . . . before she had him turned human. Right? I mean, if I was a vampire and someone came up to me and turned me into a human, I’d be like, ‘Thank you, magic pixie! Thank you for giving me my life back!’ It’s as simple as that, right? He had his life back. He should’ve been ecstatic, right?
The silence between us was broken when I heard a few quiet sobs emit from the man lying next to me.
“Spike?” I said, surprised at the amount of gentleness in my tone.
“Buffy . . . you should’ve left me in that casket. You should’ve let me die.” He said through his sobs.
That got me feeling a little bitter. I haul his not-so-feather-light ass half way across town, clean up the bloody mess that was him, and ruin a perfectly good set of sheets in helping him, and now he says I shoulda left him to die? Is that the kind of thanks I get?
So, bitter? Yeah. Pissed? Heck yeah. I was just about to let him know how I was feeling, but he continued speaking.
“I’ve been a monster for over a hundred years. Now? I’m not. I’m nothing. I’m just a simple man. Drusilla knew exactly what she was doing. Death was too good for me. Death I could’ve handled. But no, she turns me into a human. A man.”
He said the words with venom as if the very thought disgusted him.
“Spike . . . being a human isn’t generally considered a bad thing. There are worse things she could’ve done. You should consider yourself lucky that you have this second chance.”
Now he scoffed.
“Lucky?!?” He asked, suddenly turning his head so that he could stare me in the eyes. “This isn’t luck, Buffy. It’s a bloody curse. I don’t know how to function in this human world. I’m a stranger here.” He said, tears flowing down his face. “I can’t be a monster anymore, and I don’t know how to be a man.”
I couldn’t help it as the words slipped from my mouth. “I’ll show you, Spike. I’ll be right here.”
It was as if my internal censors had taken a little vacation. Not only was I helping him at that moment, but I was offering my help indefinitely.
Again, he looked completely broken, as if our little discussion had taken the last bit of strength in his body.
“I . . . I don’t think I’m going to make it.” He stated simply, his eyes starting to flutter shut.
I looked at him weird and began to readjust my seated position. “Spike, of course you’ll make it. You’re gonna . . .”
I drifted off as I spotted the completely blood-saturated bandage on his chest begin to leak down his torso. I realized that he didn’t mean he wasn’t going to make it in the human world . . . he didn’t think he was gonna make it through that night.
I also realized that he had fallen back into unconsciousness.
Just as I was about to call out to my mom, she came walking through the bedroom door with a tray in hand containing all sorts of food. When she saw Spike, she put the tray down and immediately came running over.
“He passed out again?” She asked as she pulled back the bandage from his chest to check on his wound there.
“Yeah, just a second ago.” I responded.
She sighed as she fretted over him, changing the bandage over his heart. “Buffy, he needs proper medical attention. He needs a medical evaluation, medication, and he could probably use a blood transfusion. All we can do is keep his wounds clean and change his bandages. Maybe we should reconsider taking him to the hospital.”
“No, Mom.” I replied evenly. “Trust me . . . it’ll only be worse if we do that. Like I said: too many questions. He’s got the blood of a thousand different people running through him. That alone will stump the Doctors, along with the fact that he has no known medical history and a birth date that pre-dates most of their Great-Great Grandfathers.”
“Okay, Buffy. You win. Listen, I think that maybe it’s time for you to get some rest, honey. I’m sure that tomorrow is going to be a busy day for all of us. I’ll stay here, you can go and sleep in my bed for awhile.”
I smiled at her thoughtfulness. I really was exhausted and probably could’ve used the break, but in all honesty, something wouldn’t let me leave Spike’s side. I told him that I would help him, that I would be here for him. I didn’t want to let him down . . . for some odd and twisted reason.
“No, it’s okay, Mom. I’m kinda wired . . . don’t think there will be much sleeping for me tonight. But, by all means, you can go back to you own bed. I’ll make sure to call you if I need you.”
She must have bought it because two minutes later, she was on her way back to her room, leaving Spike and I all alone.
I leaned over to the tray and checked its contents. I noticed a couple of tablets scattered around the tray. Some Ferrous Sulfate (iron), Zinc, Vitamin B, and Flintstone vitamins. I grabbed one or two of each and crushed them into a fine powder before pouring them into a small amount of orange juice.
After a small amount of trying, I managed to get most of the vitamin/juice concoction down Spike’s throat, spilling only a small amount down his chin and onto his chest. Content with the small effort that I had made, I decided that I could take a little rest. After all, a sleepy-Slayer is a useless-Slayer.
Just a light nap was all I needed. Shallow enough so that I’d be able to sense what was going on around me.
I went to move from the bed but when I tried to get up, I noticed that somehow over the last few minutes, Spike had entangled our hands and was now holding on to mine in a somewhat death-grip. ‘Yeesh. Even unconscious he doesn’t want to let me go’. The thought made me chuckle to myself.
Figuring that I wasn’t going anywhere, I made myself as comfortable as possible on the small section of bed next to Spike. Normally, even the idea of that would have been completely absurd to me, but things were different now. He was harmless, or so I hoped.
I lay awake only for a few minutes before sleep finally washed over me. I hate to admit it, but the feeling of warmth from Spike’s slightly feverish body felt strangely comforting. It was nice not to have that creepy ‘buzz’ reaction that I usually got around vamps. Like I used to get around Spike, just not anymore. Now it was just silence and stillness, and it was comfortable.
I awoke to the sound of small noises coming from downstairs. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. It was the middle of the night, after all.
I slowly opened my eyes and came upon a startling discovery.
It wasn’t the middle of the night. The birds were chirping, the sun was pouring in my window, and according to my alarm clock, it was about 9:30 am.
‘9:30?!? That was one heck of a nap!’
Then I made another discovery. I was laying in bed with Spike, snuggled up against his side. One of my arms draped across his abdomen while one of his arms had wandered around me and now rested on my back.
Yeah, I was starting to wonder just how sick he really was.
I froze, not knowing what to do in my current situation. When I heard a small knock at the door, I jumped up off of the bed as quick as my Slayer-reflexes would let me. When the door finally opened up, I was standing awkwardly next to the bed.
“Hey, honey.” My mom walked into the room. “I see you’re finally up.” She had a shitty little ‘mom-grin’ on her face. It was the kind of grin that said, ‘ha-ha, I know something you probably don’t want me to’.
“Yeah. I must’ve dozed off for a while. No big.” I said as nonchalantly as possible.
“A while?” She asked, again with the grinning. “I’ve been in here to check up on Spike every hour for about the last 5 hours, and you’ve been sleeping the whole time. You didn’t even wake up when I changed the bandage on his chest an hour ago.”
Yeah, I felt it. No, not the changing of the bandages. The blush creeping up on my cheeks.
“Oops.” I giggled nervously. “Guess I was a little worn out.” Hey, at least she didn’t bring up the cuddle-factor.
She smiled. “I guess you were. But on the good side, it looks like he made it through the night.” And there’s the grin again. “Maybe there’s some kind of special healing power in the ‘Slayer-Cuddle’ that you seemed to be taking part in.”
Aww, crap. Guess I was hoping for too much in that one.
Another nervous giggle escaped my lips. “Yeah, maybe.”
She just stared at me with an amused look before remembering why she had come up in the first place.
“Oh, honey, I almost forgot. Willow and Giles are downstairs waiting for you. Something about frantic phone calls and bringing bandages and gauze over?”
Oops. Guess I forgot to tell her that I called them first. But I didn’t want to tell her that now and let her think that she wasn’t my first choice when I needed help.
“Oh, okay. I’ll just go down and see what’s going on. Do you mind staying with him while I’m gone?” I asked her.
“Of course not, honey. Go, before Dawn wakes up and gets to them first.” She said with a genuine smile.
With that, I made my way downstairs to my friends, thinking of the words to say to explain the situation to them.