Chapter Six – Xander to the Not-so Rescue
It had been about an hour since I had left Spike upstairs to rest after the whole breakfast fiasco. I had just finished washing the dishes when I heard the front door open and heard Xander announce his presence.
“I’m in the kitchen!” I yelled out as I began to put the now dry dishes back in the cupboards.
After a minute or so Xander entered the kitchen, somewhat out of breath and looking ridiculous with little dirty splotches covering his face and clothes.
“Let me just say: yuck. Turns out that crypts aren’t exactly the cleanest places to live. Why is it that I go in for 15 minutes and come out grimy and dirt-clad, and Spike can stay in there 24 hours a day and come out looking clean and suave and less with the dirty?” Xander asked in true comedic fashion.
I smiled as I went back to what I was doing.
“It’s one of the many enigmas that we’ll just never know.” I said with a hint of sarcasm in my voice.
There was probably a logical answer. Something along the lines that Spike knew where the dirty areas were and stayed away from them, whereas Xander just stormed in and started gathering whatever he could grab, dirt-covered or not.
“In any case? SO not going back there anytime soon. I’d rather be hyena-boy again.”
Xander. My Xander. I loved him like a brother. And what do siblings do best? Egg each other on and fight.
I felt that it was my duty to uphold the tradition.
“Well Xan, you’ll be happy to know that I won’t be making you go back there any time in the near future.” I said playfully. “Butttttt . . . I do have another favor to ask of you.”
I gave him a pleading smile and instantly he tensed up, a nervous look on his face.
“Ohhhh, I know that look. That’s never a good thing, Buff. Not good at all. You’re about to ask me to do something either really depraved or really horrific, possibly both. Before you do, let me run down my list of ‘No’s’: I won’t sacrifice any animals, I won’t give up any of my own blood, Anya won’t let me have any kind of sex with anyone besides her, and I won’t put Spike’s stuff neatly away . . . I’m already dirty enough. Now, I’m willing to negotiate on the ‘sex’ part, but you’ll get a resounding ‘no’ from me on any of the others.”
I shook my head slightly as I chuckled at his statement.
“No, Xan, it’s not any of those. So, by that logic, seeing as that it’s not on your list of ‘no’s’, you’ll do it, right?” I asked, hoping that he’d agree to it without actually knowing what it was.
“Uhh . . . sure Buff. So, whatcha need me for? Strong manly stuff?” He asked as he dropped his voice an octave and puffed out his chest. “Heavy lifting? Moving of furniture? Killing of spiders and other household ookies?”
A shy little grin came up on my face as I looked up at him and batted my eyelashes.
“Xander? I need you to . . . help Spike take a shower.”
Meanwhile upstairs . . .
Spike was awaken from his slumber when he heard a loud “WHAT?!?!?!?!?!” rip through the house.
He strained his ears to listen to the rest of the conversation.
“NO WAY! NUH-UH! YOU CAN’T MAKE ME! I WON’T DO IT! There’s NO WAY that I’ll be in the same room with a naked Spike! Count me out!”
Meanwhile in the kitchen . . .
“Xander! You have to! I can’t do it! Neither can my Mom or Dawn, cuz . . . eww, all sorts of weirdness there. It’s down to you or Giles, and he won’t be here until later today.” I explained as seriously as I could, but I couldn’t help the grin that kept popping up as I gazed at the look of pure horror on Xander’s suddenly pale face.
He literally looked like he was about to pass out or be sick.
“No! Noooooo! You can’t make me do it, Buff.” He pleaded, his voice a couple of octaves higher than before. Still, I knew I was gonna win. “Unless, of course, you use Slayer power over me which, by the way, totally unfair.”
“I’m not gonna use ‘Slayer power’ on you, Xander. I’m simply going to ask you nicely, as a friend, to do this for me. I would do it if I was a boy, but clearly I’m not as evident by the pink lipstick and girl-parts. I don’t think my innocent girl eyes are quite ready to see Spike full Monty.” I didn’t even realize that I had put on my trademark pout midway through my little speech.
“Aww, Buff . . . not the pout. You know I’m a sucker for the pout!” He groaned as he dropped his shoulders in defeat. “Okay, fine. I’ll do it, as your friend. But let me tell you one thing: if I hear so much as a single titter out of anyone here while I’m helping him, I drop him where he stands and make my way back to my apartment where I’ll mope and listen to country music for days on end.”
I flashed him the biggest smile that I could muster as I threw my arms around him in a Slayer-size hug.
“Thanks Xan, you’re the best!” I beamed. I really did love my Xander. Always there to lend a hand or be the bait.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah. Empty words, Slayer.” He said jokingly as he turned his back towards me and stomped out of the kitchen and up the stairs to my bedroom.
I listened carefully as I heard him enter my room.
“’ello, nancy. Come to help me with the shower? Right. Hope you brought your rubber-ducky then.” I heard Spike taunt.
Leave it to him to tease the person who’s supposed to be helping him. He needs to learn to pick his battles more wisely.
“Don’t mess with me, Spike. My tolerance for your bull has gone from slim to none. I don’t wanna have to drown you in the bathtub, but I will if you make me.”
“Oh, look at the puffed-up manly-man! All grown-up and wearing big sisters’ clothes. The threats are old hat, ponce. They mean nothing unless they’re coming from the Slayer, so lose the ‘tude and help a bloke up, yeh?”
Those two are like heckle and jeckyll, I swear. Listening to them ‘argue’ back and forth, I couldn’t help but think that if they survived through the whole shower ordeal, they could actually be friends some day.
“Oh, I almost forgot that you’re all weak and kitten-y now. No more vampire strength to push ol’ Xander around with. By the way, I LOVE what you’ve done with yourself. It just screams ‘victim of the schoolyard bully’. Black-and-blue is definitely your color. I should take some pictures . . . you know, to keep you in line.”
I laughed as they continued their playful banter, eventually blocking them out and getting back to the chores at hand. Seeing as that I had finished the dishes, I decided to go through some of Spike’s things and clean them or put them away if needed.
As I rifled through a large bag of clothing, I couldn’t help but notice a definite pattern: black. Everything was black. Black shirts, black jeans, black socks (yep . . . Spike wears black socks, go figure), black duster. All black. Except for, of course, his infamous red button-down shirt. I pulled it out of the bag and carefully looked it over before tossing it into a nearby trashcan.
Yeah, I knew that I was gonna feel ‘the wrath of Spike’ for that one, but the shirt was old and gnarly. I couldn’t let it survive. Not for the new and improved Spike.
On that note, I made a mental list of all of the new stuff that I’d have to take Spike shopping for. Number one on the list? Clothes of the non-black variety. He has these great blue eyes, I think that a blue shirt or even blue jeans would look great on him.
Yep. I really just said that.
It’s a good thing I wasn’t talking out loud. Guess I’m really gonna have to start to watch what I say. A thought like that accidentally said aloud would have Spike smirking up a storm.
After about a half hour had passed, I was feeling fairly satisfied with what I had accomplished. I separated clean and dirty clothes and my mom was kind enough to put the dirty ones in the washing machine.
When she had come back upstairs from the basement, she was wearing a little grin on her face as she held up Spike’s leather wallet.
“It was in his jeans’ pocket. Some of the contents fell out so I just threw them back in. Maybe you should organize it a little better.” She said as she handed it to me and quietly walked out of the room.
Without even thinking about it, I opened up the wallet to organize it like she had told me. I froze when I finally had it open, my jaw hanging slightly open as I glanced into it.
Inside, there were about a dozen different pictures from me. He must’ve stolen a school yearbook and cut out the pictures of me, cuz that’s where I recognized them from. Me in my senior picture, me at the prom, me all dirty and frazzled at homecoming, etc.
I mean, I knew he had a thing for me after the events of a few weeks ago, but I didn’t know that it extended that far. Vampires weren’t supposed to carry around pictures of their crush in their wallet.
Hell, I didn’t think that they were even supposed to carry around a wallet. Why bother if you’re just going to steal things anyways?
Maybe it was just a force of habit.
I tried not to think too much about it. I already knew that Spike was bent, this little revelation shouldn’t have been that big of a shock to me. So I carefully reorganized the pictures in the wallet and placed it back into the pocket of a different pair of jeans.
There was really no reason for him to know that I knew about it. I mean, I’ll probably blush the next time I see him. Then he’ll know I know, and then I’ll know that he knows I know he knows . . .
I was distracted from my confusing thoughts when I heard yelling from upstairs.
“It’s getting colder, you bleedin’ ponce! I thought I said make it hotter!”
“Aww, is it too cold for wittle Spikey? Guess you’re not quite used to being above room temperature yet, are you, Sp . . . HEY! Stop squirting me!”
“What’s the matter, mate? Is the water a tad bit chilly for your likes?”
I could almost see the smirk on Spike’s face as he was busy splashing Xander. The thought made me laugh aloud, but I stopped my laughing as I heard Xander thumping down the stairs, huffing all the way.
I clasped my hand over my mouth to stop the laugh from escaping as I looked at the completely drenched Xander.
“Buff, I’m sorry, but I QUIT. Weak and kitteny my cold and wet behind! He pulled the shower-head down and used it like a demonic water cannon. I tried to grab it away, but it seems that the vampire strength had a hard time saying goodbye with the other vampiric traits. He held me back with one hand and squirted me with the other! Now I have water up my nose and I’m freezing cold!”
Just the simple image of what he had described was enough to make the laugh that I was holding in behind my hand bust through in a loud snort.
Suddenly, he was pointing an accusatory finger in my face while wearing a shocked expression.
“Not a titter! That’s what I said! And that, my friend, was definitely a titter! You’ve left me no other choice! Now excuse me as I swim outta here and go home and pout.”
And just like that, my laughter disappeared and the smile was gone, leaving a pleading look and a slight whine in its place. I grabbed his arm as he began to walk towards the door and was dragged along in the process.
“No, Xander, please. If you leave, then I have to go up there. Please! Xander, don’t go!”
But my efforts were in vain. When he finally got to the front door, he spun around and looked me in the eyes, placing a firm hand on both of my shoulders. He leaned in and gave me a quick peck on the forehead.
“Buff, you know I love you. But I don’t love Spike. I owe him nothing but a swift kick in the ass. I tried to be Mr. Nice Guy, but now I’m Mr. Wet Guy, and Mr. Wet Guy wants to go home and mope. I’m sorry, but you’re just gonna have to deal with ‘The Living Bruise’ on your own.” With that said, he turned and walked out the door, muttering as he squished down the front walk.
I could have protested, but I just let it go.
There was no way to get Xander back upstairs at that point short of dragging him up there with my Slayer strength.
I could’ve done it . . . but I figured I’d let him keep the last little shred of dignity that he had left.
So there I stood at the bottom of the stairs, glancing up them with a scowl on my face. I was pissed. Here I go out of my way to help him and bring him back here and he can’t even behave for a half hour.
I pounded up the stairs and walked towards the direction of the pain in my ass that was still in the shower. My scowl turned into an outright death glare as I entered the small pond that was now my bathroom.
Facing the closed shower curtain with my fists clenched tightly at my sides, I spoke through gritted teeth.
“Spike! Why can’t you act like a normal person for once in your life?!? You’ve completely pissed off Xander, and Giles isn’t gonna be here for hours! So, once again, it’s up to ME to help you.”
I waited for his response, but he didn’t say anything.
“Spike, what do you have to say for yourself?” I asked.
Whoa. When did I turn into my mother?
I waited for a second until I finally heard his quiet reply.
“Pet, think I need a little help in here.”
Right away, I knew that something was wrong. I inched forward a little and pushed the shower curtain in a bit, not enough to see him, but enough to see the traces of fresh blood intermingling with the draining water.
“Spike, what happened?!” I yelled with concern as I grabbed a fresh towel from the vanity and pulled back the shower curtain. I held the towel in front of me and turned my head sideways so that I wouldn’t get the full frontal.
When I finally had the towel up against him, I turned my head and turned off the water. He was leaning up against the tiles, blood trickling down from several of his wounds.
“S’pose I goaded some of these cuts. Couldn’t bloody help m’self though. The wanker was jus’ askin’ for it, all puffed up like a manly-man and speaking daggers.”
I sighed as I helped to wrap the towel better around his lower back, carefully avoiding any intimate touches.
“Can you really blame him? On and off for the last year or two, he’s had to put up with your demon crap and nefarious schemes. Even though you’re . . . better . . . now, he’s still on full blockage mode. If you ever expect him to behave decently towards you, you have to make the first step, or at least try to meet him half way.”
Woo-hoo. Look at me . . . suddenly I’m Mrs. Insightful. Color me pleasantly surprised.
After I had him decently covered up, I stepped in the tub and ducked my head under his arm, leaning him on me as we carefully maneuvered out of the tub and onto the slippery bathroom floor.
I must’ve growled slightly as we slipped around cuz I suddenly heard him say, “Sorry ‘bout that, luv.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” I grunted back as I set him on vanity. I snickered as I grabbed another clean towel and began to dab at his chest and arms to dry them off.
“What?” He asked with an eyebrow raised.
“Nothing really.” I answered with a little grin. “It just . . . never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I’d be helping you like this.”
Then he snickered. “But there have been wild dreams, yeh?” He asked with a wicked little grin.
Okay, score one for the bleached blonde. There haven’t been any dreams, but I’m still blushing like a spring bride. Maybe he does have a little bit of evil left in him after all.
. . . in fact, I really don’t mind if he does. Kinda makes things more interesting.
But I can’t let him know that I like it. So I did the only thing I could think of to avoid the question.
I threw the towel over his head and vigorously rubbed to dry his hair.
“Careful, luv. You’re likely to give me a concussion you keep that up.” I heard his teeth rattle as he spoke.
Oops. I keep forgetting that he’s injured and kitten-y.
Then again, Xander said that he was still pretty strong.
“Quick question, Spike. Xander said you were able to wrench the showerhead down and spray him. That thing has been rusted tight up there forever. How d’ya think you managed that one?”
He laughed a little at the memory and then just shrugged. “Don’t really know. One hundred plus years of being in peak physical condition, maybe. Guess we’ll have to look into that one when I’m all mended, yeh?”
I just nodded.
My mind kind of wandered when he brought up ‘peak physical condition’ cuz let me tell you, even cut up and bruised? Spike has a banging body. I told myself that I wasn’t checking him out cuz I knew that it was wrong, but I kept taking glances out of the corner of my eyes.
I know I’m gonna sound kinda cheesy saying this but, when I said he was statuesque earlier, I really meant it. He looked like one of those statues of the Greek Gods that you see in books. All pale and cut, completely chiseled . . .
. . . and completely trying to get my attention.
“Hmm?” I said, trying to get him to repeat his words.
“I said, are you almost finished, luv. My hair’s dry and I think my scalp’s gone raw.”
I took the towel off of his head and was surprised to find that his platinum hair had dried into the cutest man-curls that I’ve ever seen.
He must’ve realized that I was cooing over his curls cuz he quickly interrupted my thoughts.
“Not a word on the curls, luv. All I’ll be needin’ is a little bit of gel and some severe healing and I’ll be back in business in no time.”
The goofy smile that I was wearing turned into a patronizing grin as I ran my hand through his hair and mussed it up even more.
“I’ll take your word on that. Until then . . . it’s time to get you dressed and back into bed to rest up.”
“Just bed? No more goodies then?” He asked seriously. Between his serious demeanor and the growling I heard his stomach making, I chuckled a little.
“Okay, I give. After we get you back in bed, I’ll fix up some snacks or something. But only if you’re a good little Spikey between now and then.” I teased.
“Oh, I will be. Just keep the ponce away and I’ll be the best little former baddie ever to grace your presence.”
As I stared into his blue eyes and he stared back into mine, I think that we were having a moment again. A real soft smile was on his face, and I think that mine mirrored it exactly.
I’ll admit it: being with Spike like this wasn’t so bad. We still had our friendly banter, but I knew that at least now he wouldn’t try to kill me when I turned my back on him. I liked the fact that he was letting me take care of him without putting up too much of an argument. It made me feel important and needed more than being a Slayer ever had . . . in some really weird and twisted way, or course.
Anyhow, I helped him up again and we walked to my bedroom, him leaning on me the entire time. His hand kinda drifted up and down my side a few times . . . but I’m gonna let it go this time on the account that I knew he wasn’t completely well at that point.
I know that I was blushing the entire time that I helped him get changed but oddly enough? He didn’t call me on it. In fact, he remained perfectly quiet and tried to be as much of a gentleman as he could be under the current circumstances.
After he was appropriately dressed and bandaged, I ran downstairs and made a couple of snacks. Some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a bag of instant popcorn, some chocolate pudding that Dawn made him, and a granola bar.
I sat and watched him eat, turning away only when he started dipping the granola bar into the pudding. He raved about how much he loved peanut butter, so after I left him to rest for a while, I ran downstairs and made a batch of peanut butter cookies.
What? It was a nice thing to do, and I’m a nice girl. No undertones to it whatsoever. Just ‘Mom Buffy’ doing her job. Ha.
The cookies were a tad bit . . . well done . . . but he didn’t seem to mind. Or if he did, he didn’t say anything about it.
After discussing it with my mom, we decided that it would be best for one of us to camp out on the bedroom floor during the night just in case there were any changes in his condition or if he needed bandage changes.
Seeing as that he was my responsibility, I offered to be the designated camper.
That night we stayed up talking for awhile, me lying on the floor in a sleeping bag and him up on the bed. He told me a little about what he was like before he was turned, and I told him a little about what I was like before I was called.
It was kinda nice.
Halfway through the night after he had been sleeping for awhile, I heard him whimpering kinda loudly in his sleep. Figuring that it must’ve been a nightmare, I stood up and crossed the room, gently shaking his arm to wake him up.
The simple touch didn’t wake him, but it did quiet his whimpers. As I turned to go back to my sleeping bag, his whimpers started up again. I put my hand back on his arm and he quieted down again.
Then I put two and two together.
When Angel came back from hell (where he was tortured and whatnot), he would cry and whimper in his sleep. Only human touch calmed him down.
I guess that it was kinda the same for Spike. He was probably reliving Drusilla’s torment as he slept, and my simple touch calmed him down.
Now don’t get me wrong. I was completely hesitant about staying on the bed with him all night, but I didn’t want my mom or Dawn to have to lay awake all night either.
As gingerly as I could, I got into the bed with my back against the headboard, making myself as comfortable as possible as I half-nestled myself against him warm body.
I would’ve laid down, but all I needed was to wake up in a position like earlier that morning and have my mom thinking bad things about what had happened.
Slowly but surely, I began to drift off to sleep.
Before I finally crossed the threshold of sleep, I felt Spike nestle closer to my body and heard a content sigh escape his lips.
I can’t be sure, but I think I fell asleep with a small smile on my face that night.
I wasn’t sure what it meant, but I can tell you that it definitely scared the hell out of me.