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Splinters by Lilachigh
Chp 3 Pain Killer
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by Lilachigh

Chpt. 3 Pain Killer

Falling asleep with a vampire is not a good idea...

The pain woke Joyce. She’d been restless all night, sure at one point that she could hear voices downstairs, but she’d been mistaken. Then she’d drifted off to sleep only to be jolted awake by the throbbing inside her head. She swallowed another two pain killers and sat up in bed. The comforting familiarity of her bedroom eased her mind for a while, then she caught sight of her bag, sitting ready packed in the corner and her fears came flooding back.

For all her brave words to Buffy, she knew she wasn’t well. She tried to pretend that, yes, whatever it was, they had caught it at a very early stage, so a course of treatment of some kind and she would be fine. But deep down she knew that wasn’t true. Something had invaded her brain and was growing there.

She found herself smiling at a stray thought - now she could sympathise with Spike. This was what being chipped must be like. A foreign body nestling inside your head, altering the way you behave in every way.

Although the room was warm and cosy, she shivered. If it turned out to be as bad as she thought it might, what would happen to her girls? Their father would be no use at all. They would be on their own. No, that simply couldn’t happen.

She pushed her thoughts aside. She was being maudlin and silly. Hundreds of people had little problems like hers and came through completely unscathed. If only she could truly believe that Buffy and Dawn would be all right.

Dawn worried her. Sometimes - Joyce struggled with her feelings - she almost felt as if she was someone else’s child. She didn’t remind her of any of her own family and certainly non of her ex’s. But she loved her deeply. And as for Buffy - she was physically so strong but emotionally.....

Joyce threw back the bedclothes and reached for her robe. She was so thirsty. She would go downstairs and make some tea....

At the kitchen table, Spike was sitting very, very still. For two hours he hadn’t moved. Buffy was fast asleep, her head resting against his shoulder. But he could tell she was dreaming. And the little moans and cries she made showed that whatever was running through her mind wasn’t of the puppy dogs and roses variety.

His arm had developed severe cramp an hour since, but he would have cheerfully staked himself rather than wake her. He told himself righteously that was because a sleepy Slayer who wasn’t at the height of her powers was a pretty feeble enemy. Although chipped he couldn’t kill her himself, other demons and vampires might. He wasn’t letting her sleep for her sake, but theirs.

And if he bent his head just a fraction, the tousled blonde curls just touched his lips and the scent....

‘Spike!’ Joyce’s shocked whisper shot through him like the proverbial stake.

‘Sssh,’ he said without thinking or moving. ‘She’s asleep.’

One of the things he liked about Buffy’s mother was her ability to cope with a situation and move on. The sight of a vampire sitting at her kitchen table in the middle of the night with her eldest daughter fast asleep on his shoulder should have made her scream. Instead, Joyce walked across and sat opposite them. ‘Have you been here long?’

‘Couple of hours, I think. Can’t see the clock on the microwave. I’ll have to move before sun up.’

‘But why...?’

‘Oh, don’t worry. Nothing drastic. I had, er, injuries to my fingers, - oh very slight, nothing to get excited about - but I needed a little first aid and Buffy obliged. Then she kindly made me a very nice cuppa - not as good as yours, but nice - and she sort of....fell asleep.’

‘I see.’

There was a silence for a while then Joyce said, ‘And how have you been keeping?’

‘Good, thank you.’

‘When you came by last time for a chat, you mentioned a girl - ’

‘Yes, I did. It’s very kind of you to remember. Her name‘s Harmony, she’s - ’

‘Harmony Kendall? Oh she used to be in Buffy’s year - oh, vampire?’

Spike raised an eyebrow in reply and Joyce nodded sympathetically. ‘Well, good. That’s nice for you. I never liked the thought of you living in that crypt on your own.’

Spike smiled and flinched as the cramp bit in his arm again.

‘I’ll wake her,’ Joyce said softly but he shook his head.

‘Give her another minute or two.’ His bright blue gaze flared across the table at her and he frowned as he sensed - smelt - something wrong. ‘What’s the problem, Joyce. Why is Buffy having a major wiggins tonight? She’s been kicking me around all evening, although to be fair, she did buy me some chicken wings in the Bronze.’

‘Oh Spike, are you hungry? I could make you - ’ Joyce half stood up, then swayed as the pain bit in her head, and sat down again.

Spike stared at her and for an instant he fought to keep his game face from breaking out. He felt a surge of white hot anger. NO! What he was thinking, sensing, could not be right, but every vampire instinct he possessed told him that this was a wounded member of the herd, something that could be cut out, run down and taken because she wasn’t right.

But this was the Slayer’s mother and now he realised just why Buffy had been so upset all evening.

Joyce put he hand to her head, but said nothing. She looked across the table at Spike and he wondered, not for the first time, why she even gave him the time of day. What did she see in him that stopped her throwing him out of the house in a non heartbeat?

‘Is it going to be bad?’ he asked quietly.

Joyce smiled. ‘Bad is what Buffy faces every day of her life,’ she said calmly. ‘I have a little headache that the hospital are going to investigate and cure. I have every faith in them, in modern medicine, in the doctors and nurses.’

Spike tensed and Buffy murmured crossly and slid down his chest until her head was pillowed in his lap. He stretched his arm in relief. ‘Sure. Hospitals. Great places. Love ’em to bits. Blood, blood and more blood. Sort of vampire super-markets. Fresh or frozen, take your pick - ’

‘Spike - ’ Joyce interrupted him ‘I know you and Buffy don’t see eye to eye over most things -’

Spike frowned in what he hoped was a ferocious manner. That was the only problem with having no reflection - it was hard to practise your expressions. ‘Bleedin’ right there. I’m a killer. Evil. Slayer and me - mortal enemies. If it wasn’t for the chip - ’

Joyce broke in again. ‘Yes, yes, I’ve been sitting watching you with your mortal enemy. I’m not sure where the caring comes into the equation, but we’ll forget that for now. Spike, not that anything is going to happen to me, but just supposing - I need to know there’s someone there for my girls, a sort of guardian angel - ’

She stopped when she saw the expression on his face.

‘There’s an ordinary Angel in L.A. who’d be down here like a shot, all puffed up hair and comforting words. They wouldn’t need me.’ He ran his fingers through his hair until it stood up in twists and rings. ‘Anyway, like you say, hospitals, good places. You’ll be fine.’

Joyce bit her lip and slowly stood up. ‘Don’t let’s play games, Spike. I think we both know that - Well, I’m going back to bed. I’m so very tired.’ She turned in the doorway. ‘I shouldn’t have asked. I’m sorry.’ She gave a little laugh. ‘I don’t know why I’m going on like this. I’m going to be fine. By this time next week, all this will seem like a silly dream. Goodnight, Spike. Wake Buffy soon. You need to go home. It’ll be sunrise in an hour.’

‘Joyce!’ He held up the hand that was dangerously close to smoothing the blonde curls that lay across his legs and the blue eyes gleamed. She was amazing. She trusted him, this woman who’d crashed an axe across his head when they first met.

‘For what it’s worth, I would do my best.’

Joyce smiled affectionately and he realised with a jolt that it was just for him. ‘That’s all any mother can ask for, Spike,’ she murmured and turned away into the darkness that swallowed her up.

to be continued

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