I came walking down the stairs to come face to face with a nervous looking Giles and Willow. Giles’ arms were filled with a wide array of bandages, gauze, sterile cotton, and towels. Willow was doing her part, carrying the first-aid kit that she had disguised as a lunch box.
The sight was pretty comical. It looked like they were walking into some sort of a disaster area. Their nervous glares turned into annoyed scowls when they saw me walking down the stairs in an obviously uninjured condition.
“Buffy, I received your frantic message only just this morning and automatically assumed the worst. Now here you are . . . perky and alive as well. Please, do tell us what has happened.” Giles said to me, a frustrated yet relieved look on his face.
“Where were you guys last night? I had BIG issues, and I couldn’t get in touch with either of you. Will’s mom finally told me that you guys were out at some ‘classical movie-fest’ or something.” I replied, trying to keep my voice even.
Then I realized something. They had some kind of group outing and they never even told me about it, nor invited me. Granted that I had to patrol for awhile, slaying isn’t my whole life. I probably wouldn’t have gone with them anyway, I mean . . . classical movies aren’t exactly my ‘thing’. But still . . . it’s the principle behind it.
As soon as I had said the words, Willow dropped her eyes and started fidgeting. I definitely think she was feeling guilty for not telling me that they were going out.
Let’s hear her big defense.
“Buff, it was sort-of a last minute thing. Xander read about a ‘Brat Pack’ all-night movie festival at The Sun, and we decided to take Giles to show him what truly classic 80’s movies were all about. We were gonna call you, but it was already late and we knew that you’d be out patrolling already.”
Okay, now I’m just kinda annoyed. If there’s one thing I love, it’s 80’s Brat Pack movies. Everyone knows this. I would’ve skipped slaying for something important like a movie-fest like that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watched Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club, Sixteen Candles, and all of the others. When I was younger, all of my dolls were named Ally, Molly, and Demi after my 3 favorite Brat Pack girls, and I had practically dubbed myself Mrs. Anthony Michael Hall and Mrs. James Spader for most of my adolescence.
Sorry. Got a little off-topic there, but I think you can understand my pseudo-pain here.
After Willow spoke, I unconsciously scoffed.
“Oh, sure. You guys were off watching a Brat Pack Marathon while I was out playing ‘tomb raider’. I’d like to have a little conversation with whoever’s in charge to the duty-delegation around here.”
“Ooooh, Tomb raider.” Xander cut in as he walked in through the opened front door. He’s got on that endearing goofy smile and a box of donuts under his arm. “I love that video game. Lara Croft rocks my mildly-sad world.”
His little interruption broke me out of my annoyed phase and I giggled a little at his joke. You can always count on Xander to lighten the mood.
Giles must’ve sensed my mood lightening, so he decided to press me further on exactly what I was talking about.
“Erm, Buffy . . . let me get this straight. You were playing video games last night?” He asked, looking really confused.
Ahh. Giles is so innocent. The thought makes me smile, but my smile fades into resolve as I ready myself to tell them what happened.
“I wasn’t playing video games, Giles, and I wasn’t ‘shirking’ my duties, so don’t get all stuffy on me just yet. I was out on patrol last night and I heard moans coming from inside a crypt.” I saw Xander smile mischievously. “No, not sex moans, Xander. Pain moans. I went into the crypt and heard the sounds coming from inside a locked marble casket. I used my convenient super-Slayer strength to break the locks off. When I opened up the casket,” I paused and drew in a deep breath, “I found Spike was laying in it, bruised, burned, and bloodied. He asked me for help, so I brought him here.”
They all gave me a puzzled look.
“You . . . brought the evil blood-sucking fiend who chained you up in a crypt back to your house?” Xander asked, looking at me like I was completely crazy.
Maybe I am a little crazy. I don’t know anymore.
“Yeah. But I had it under complete control. Besides . . . he’s different now. There’s, uh, there’s something I should tell you guys.” They all looked at me anxiously. “Spike, well, he . . . umm, I don’t know how, but it seems that he’s kinda, well . . . human.”
Cue the looks of disbelief and shock.
No one spoke. Xander dropped the donuts and stood there, mouth opening and closing like a fish. Giles took off his glasses and cleaned them off with his shirt. Willow did that thing where it looks like she’d about to say something, but she keeps taking in deep breaths instead. I think they were waiting for me to say ‘HAH! FOOLED YA!’
I wish I was fooling them. It would make my life a hell of a lot less complicated. But, what can I expect when Spike is involved? He always complicates things.
Our awkward silence was broken when my mom walked down the stairs behind me and put her hand on my shoulder. I turned to look at her.
“Honey, he’s awake, and he’s asking for you. I gave him some juice and some of the vitamins and supplements we had. Why don’t you go see him and I’ll . . .” she looked down at the donuts on the floor, “. . . see what I can salvage of the breakfast Xander brought over.”
I didn’t even bother to excuse myself from my friends as I jogged back up the stairs. I vaguely heard Xander ask my mom, “Wait, he’s staying in her room?” I wasn’t going to stop to defend my decision to put Spike in my room. It seemed perfectly logical to me. Or at least it did at the time.
When I got to my bedroom door and peered in, I froze. Spike was out of bed and standing next to the window, the golden light of the morning sun filtering in and setting on his pale skin. His head was slightly tilted back and his eyes were closed, and I couldn’t help but notice the smallest sign of a smile playing on his lips.
I know that it was probably rude to stand there and stare, but the sight before me had me temporarily paralyzed. This former creature of the night whom I had only ever seen surrounded by shadows and darkness was standing here now, bathed in the warm sunlight, looking statuesque and confident even in his injured state.
My breathing must’ve hitched or something because suddenly, two bright blue eyes were staring at me, waiting for me to do or say something.
Wow. I never really realized how blue his eyes were before. They . . . wait. What am I talking about? Focus, Buffy.
“Oh, sorry.” I said shyly as I walked into the room. “Didn’t mean for that to turn into a peep show, but . . . I’ve never seen you in the sunlight before. Kinda caught me by surprise. Well, that, plus the fact that you’re standing without any help. I’d say that’s a big change since last night.” I walked over so that I was standing next to him and then turned to gaze out the window. I wasn’t looking at anything in particular, but I knew I had to find something to distract me from looking at him.
“S’okay, luv. I’m still in a bit of shock myself. I forgot . . . how warm the sun could feel. Can’t wait for these sodding bandages to come off. Where are those ‘super healing abilities’ when a bloke could really use them?” He asked dryly, attempting to cover up the awkwardness of the situation with humor. The effort wasn’t lost on me.
I chuckled a little at his joke, but I quieted down and got serious as I turned to face him.
“Spike . . . I know this is really weird for you. Hell, it’s really weird for me, too. But your lame attempt at humor isn’t necessary.” He looked up at me and raised an eyebrow, amused by my honesty. “I can’t tell you what’s gonna happen and how things are gonna work out because I’m not a vision-girl, and my attempts at being a prophecy-girl always end badly. What I can tell you is that there’s gonna be a BIG period of adjustment, and I’m sure that it will be filled with awkward silences and strange glances aplenty. We’ll just have to take it one day at a time.”
He tried to smile at me, but even that small action made him wince in pain as the cut on his lower lip re-opened and began to bleed again. He touched his fingers to his lip and then looked at the blood that had transferred onto his hand.
Whether it was instinct or habit, he raised his hand again to his mouth as if he was going to lick the blood off, but he flinched when he realized what he was doing.
“Oh, bloody hell. I’m falling apart at the bloody seams.” He said disgustedly and started to fidget at the thought of the blood on his lip and fingers.
Once again, another wave of compassion came over me out of the clear blue sky. He looked like he was struggling so hard, and I hated having to see him that way.
“Come here.” I said gently, grabbing his non-bloody hand and leading him to the edge of the bed, indicating for him to take a seat.
I went to the bed-stand to grab some cotton swabs, alcohol pads, and ointment. I could hear him hiss in pain as he sat down, but I didn’t run to help him. He’s a man, after all. The last thing he needed was for me to coddle him when he showed his weak side. My taking care of his injuries was enough; if I were to run to his side to help him do something as easy as sit down, his ego and confidence would be completely shot.
I walked back over and stood before him with the items I had just retrieved, pretending that I hadn’t heard his painful hisses. He looked at the items in my hands and raised a questioning eyebrow at me.
“You gonna take care of me, luv? Fix my boo-boo’s?” He asked sarcastically.
“Just like I did last night. You can call me Dr. Buffy if you want to.” I answered back just as sarcastically, giving him a wink before laying out the items beside him on the bed.
When I had everything situated, I picked up the alcohol pad and was about to put it on the cut, but his hand shot out and grabbed my wrist, stopping it about an inch away from contact.
“And what exactly are you gonna do with that thing?”
Now it was my turn to look at him like he was crazy.
“Well, Spikey, I was just about to clean out that cut that you re-opened with this handy little swabby here.” I held up the swab, displaying it to him.
“Oh no you’re not.” He stated, taking the swab fro my hand and tossing it across the room. Before I could yell at him, he continued, “It doesn’t take a genius to realize that alcohol + oozing bloody cut = mind-numbing stinging pain. I’ll pass.”
My patience level dropped a little.
“Spike,” I said firmly, “cuts left untreated in humans can get infected, and you seem to be fresh out of super-healing abilities. We can’t just let it stay like that.”
He grunted a little, fidgeting nervously. I swear, he was acting like 5-year old child that was afraid to take his ‘yucky’ medicine.
I laughed. “Spike, you can’t seriously tell me that with all the pain and torture you’ve been through over the last few weeks, you’re afraid of a little ‘sting’ that’ll be over in less that a minute.” I said teasingly.
He thought about it for a moment. I couldn’t be sure, but I swear I could almost hear his inner voice trying to convince him to ‘suck it up’ and act like a man in front of me.
“Fine.” He said after a minute had passed. “But I’ll have you know that I’m not afraid, I’m just not too keen on enduring any more torture, thank you very much.”
“Sure you’re not.” I said playfully as I grabbed another swab and squatted down in front of him, bringing us face to face. I inched my hand towards his face and carefully settled the swab on his lip. I felt him tense up as I ran the swab back and forth a few times, trying to get it done as quickly as possible.
“Owww!” He yelled. “It stings like hell! Oww oww oww oww oww oww!” He yelped, slightly stomping his feet on the ground.
The sight made me laugh. ‘Big Bad Spike’ is a ‘Big Bad Baby’. I rolled my eyes and scoffed, “You big baby.”
I didn’t even realize what I was doing until I was doing it, but I suddenly found myself inches from his face while cupping it in my hands and blowing on his injured lip to cool down the stinging. Suddenly, I became aware of what I was doing up and my eyes shot up to see his reaction.
His eyes were as wide as mine must have been. Our eyes remained locked for a moment as I continued blowing on his lip, neither of us wanting to make a big drastic move that would show our awkwardness at the situation.
After my blowing no longer seemed necessary, I pulled back, still looking into his blue eyes, and I shakily asked, “Better?”
He simply nodded, not quite able to find any words at the moment.
Thankfully, the awkwardness was once again broken by the sudden appearance of my mother, who was smiling over at us in an amused manner.
“Buffy, your friends are still waiting downstairs for you. They want to know what’s going on up here.”
“Nothing’s going on up here!” I said defensively as I jumped away from Spike, instantly aware at how ridiculous I must’ve sounded. “I just . . . Spike’s lip started bleeding so I was taking care of him . . . it. I was taking care of his lip. And that’s all. Dr. Buffy to the rescue and all of that.”
So then both my mom and Spike were looking at me amused. Great.
‘Say something, Buffy’. Even I was kind of amused at my own behavior at that point.
I chuckled lightly. “Okay Mom, can you tell them I’ll be down in a few minutes? I just want to finish fixing up Spike’s lip before I get distracted again.” That, and I need a minute to compose myself before I talk to them. I knew that I had to be blushing. They didn’t need to see me like this.
“Sure, honey.” She turned to Spike. “Spike, you must be famished by now. Can I make you some breakfast?”
He gave her a grateful smile. “That would be wonderful, Joyce. Whatever you have s’fine with me. S’pose I don’t know what I like just yet.”
“Okay. I’ll be back up shortly.” She replied. With that, she was gone just as quickly as she had come in.
The room suddenly felt kind of awkward again. I looked to Spike and saw that he was gazing up at me, so I pulled myself together as best as I could.
“So . . . back to your lip. Are you gonna let me finish this time?” I asked as I approached him again.
“I’m all yours.” He said, dropping his last defenses and letting me clean up the remaining blood on his lip and apply some antibiotic ointment to it.
As I was fixing him up, I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a double meaning behind his last words. He said ‘I’m all yours’. Of course, he could’ve simply meant that there wouldn’t be anymore distractions to stop me from cleaning his cut, but could he have meant something else as well? I know that maybe I was delving a little too deeply into the simple words, but still. Just weeks ago he was confessing his love for me. I told him it would never happen, but here I am, helping him and being civil.
Of course, things are a little different than they were just those few short weeks ago, with him being human and all now. But I wonder if he’s still having those feelings, especially now that I’m being nice to him.
I knew that probably should’ve put back on my ‘bitch’ front . . . but for some reason that God only knows . . . I just couldn’t do it.
I was broken out of my thoughts when I heard Spike begin to talk again.
“Buffy . . .” he asked shyly and dropped his eyes, “a couple of minutes when you said that ‘we’ll just have to take this one day at a time’, did you mean it?”
I stopped my ministrations and just stared at him before a small smile appeared on my face.
“Yeah, Spike. I meant it. I’ll be here to help you through this.”
I stood up and gathered the items that I had just used, discarding them in the wastebasket. I was just about to walk out of the room when I heard him speak again.
“Why?” He asked, so softly that I could barely hear him.
I paused at the doorway and turned my head so that I was glancing over my shoulder at him. Again, I flashed him just a tiny, tiny smile.
“Because you asked me for help.” I said gently. He just stared at me, a happy yet confused look on his face. “Get some rest. I’ve gotta talk with my friends. My mom will be back up soon.”
And with that, I made my way back downstairs to my awaiting friends.
I walked into the kitchen to find Willow, Giles, and Xander sitting around and speaking quietly. They all turned their attention to me when they saw me walk in. I knew they had a million questions, most of which I had no answers for, so I decided to just take charge and do things my way.
“Okay, I know you guys probably have a gazillion questions. But, I don’t really have any answers to give you. I’ll just tell you what I know. Drusilla captured Spike about three weeks ago. She tortured him by burning him with holy water and crosses, and by cutting him all over and letting him bleed out. Spike says that he can’t remember much, but that he vaguely recalls a hooded Shaman being there. That’s probably how he was turned human again. Drusilla said something along that only . . .”
I stopped myself, not wanting to mention the ‘only William could fall in love with the Slayer’ part. If I was still freaked out about that little gem, I don’t think that they would take it too well either.
“I mean, that if he couldn’t be the monster that she created, then he couldn’t be Spike anymore either.”
They looked around from one another, finally realizing that this whole ‘Spike’s a human’ thing was actually real. Before anyone could speak, I continued.
“So, I think that we have some things that we have to take care of and look into now. First, I think we need to find out what kind of Shaman can turn a vampire human. Second, we have to see if whatever ‘voodoo’ he used is permanent, and if it has any sorts of hidden clauses or catches. Third . . . we should find out if he has a soul. And lastly, Xander, maybe you can take care of this, we should get Spike’s things from his crypt because there’s no way I’m letting a human live in a crypt, and Spike’s too weak to go get his stuff by himself right now.”
“He can stay here for now.” My mom volunteered, causing all of us to turn and glare at her. “What? He’s injured, and he’ll need someone to help him as he heals. Plus, he’s going to have to learn how to adjust to being a human again. Who better to help him than us?”
Though I’m sure we were all doubting the validity and sensibility of that plan for a while, we eventually all nodded our heads, conceding to my mother’s idea.
“Right then.” I finished up. “I think we all have some work to do. You guys get busy with the research and item fetching, and I’ll try to get any other information I can out of Spike. Are we all clear on this?”
I didn’t mean to sound like ‘Sergeant Buffy’, but I really didn’t feel like dealing with any of their griping about the situation. I had enough on my mind as it was.
I saw that my mom had finished making breakfast for Spike, so I kindly took the tray from her and made my way up the stairs to go see the man in the center of this whole controversy.