Note: Thanks to my beta t_geyer for her unending patience, perseverance and support.
SECTION 4 - ELSEWHERE
I love the time and in between
The calm inside me
In the space where I can breathe
I believe there is a distance I have wandered
To touch upon the years of
Reaching out and reaching in
Holding out and holding in
This is heaven to no one else but me
And I'll defend it
As long as I can be
Left here to linger in silence
If I choose to
Would you try to understand?
(Sarah McLachlan, Album - Fumbling Towards Ecstasy)
Thanks also to Emma for suggesting this way back
when I started FTE, even if it did take me three
months to follow through.
Hope she's still reading.
Sunday, May 19th, 2002
“So what's this miracle cure that you've found, love?” Spike asked as he and Buffy slid into the back seat of the DeSoto, leaving the front for Dawn and Brandon.
“Same thing that cured Angel. My blood.”
“And mine,” Dawn interrupted from the front seat.
Spike almost snarled, “Stay out of this, Niblet. And you ... I seem to recall we already had this discussion once this morning.”
“And you said you wouldn't take a chance on hurting me. I remember... And I told you that I would do whatever had to be done to get you well.”
“Well, you can fuck right off.” Spike reached for the door handle despite the fact the vehicle was now in motion.
“...Even if it meant finding a safe way to do this.” Buffy reached across Spike's body and pulled the door shut again before he got it open more than the first few inches. His eyes swivelled to meet her gaze. “Or rather Bee found a safe way to do it. There's a doctor waiting at Wes's place with a cooler full of AB pos and saline so that he can keep topping us up as we go, so the whole blood loss thing is covered and I won't let Dawn give more than a couple of pints anyway and you don't need to feed directly from us. We don't even need to be in the same house if you don't want, though I can't say I'm all that keen on letting you out of my sight.”
Spike's voice was hoarse with emotion. “Me neither, love.” Under the guise of a kiss he whispered in her ear. “Was so afraid I was goin' to have to leave you. Didn't want to break my promise but I just couldn't risk hurtin' either of you.”
“Don't ya know us hero types always come up with the goods in the nick of time? That's what we do,” Buffy whispered back before letting her teeth barely graze his earlobe in a gentle nip. She drew back, looking at the bruises all over Spike's face and body. “Does it hurt when I kiss you?”
Spike reached out a hand to cradle her face as he drew her back in toward him. “Not half as much as it hurts when you don't.”
Buffy looked up from her haven in Spike's arms as Brandon pulled into the drive at the side of the house and slammed the brakes on rather more quickly than she was expecting.
“What the-?” Spike spat out, as the classic car nearly hit the black convertible that was occupying the space behind the pick-up truck that was in the DeSoto's normal spot. The vamp's eyes narrowed and Buffy could feel the rage that sprang instantly to life in his veins as he recognised his grandsire's car.
“Why do I even bother trying to talk to you? You don't listen to a bloody thing I say, do you?”
Buffy tried to convey a sense of calm to the touchy vamp. “Will, I never asked him to come. Whatever reason he's here, it's not what you're thinking. You made it clear how you felt on that score and there's no way I would risk what we have. I don't know why he's come, but even if Bee hadn't found us a demon doc, I wouldn't do what I said about getting him to bite me. Not after you made it clear what it meant to you. Okay?”
In the face of Buffy's honesty Spike's anger died as quickly as it had flared. “'Kay. Sorry, love. He just-.”
“He pushes your buttons. I know. Dawn, you want to see what he wants while I get Spike over to the doc and make a start on the whole blood donor thing?”
“No-o-o, but I-. Skank alert.” Dawn switched topic mid-sentence as Faith walked out onto the back porch and lit a cigarette.
“Old friend, pet?”
“Only in a wishing her dead kind of way...” Buffy told him.
Spike sniffed the air. “Seems like you and the 'Fabulous Watcher Boys' weren't the only ones as worked out what was up. Didn't figure his High and Mighty-ness for a meals on wheels volunteer though.”
“You have got to be joking. He thought I was going to let you put your teeth in that ho?”
Spike's mouth curled into a swollen-lipped smirk at Buffy's possessiveness as she pulled him from the car rather more forcefully than she probably intended.
“Come on, Spike. The doctor's waiting.”
“You understand that?” Buffy asked after Spike relayed the doctor's instructions for Buffy to lie down on one of Wes's new sofas, the other still being taken up by Tara's unconscious form. The slayer settled herself and Spike kneeled on the floor in front of the couch so that he could hold her left hand while her right arm was being connected up to an empty blood bag. The doctor pressed a plastic grip into her hand and curled and uncurled his fist until she caught on.
“Understand, sure. Speak it, different matter.”
“At least someone knows what the blazes he's saying,” Giles muttered from his perch on the arm of Tara's sofa as he adjusted the ice-pack that he had pressed to his forehead. “I had no idea what the dickens he was wittering on about when I came to. Nearly jumped a mile when I saw that face bending over me.”
“Watcher, just because you don't understand him doesn't mean that he doesn't understand you an' since he's the one as is goin' to be lookin' after the ladies maybe you could be a bit more polite.”
“Quite.” Giles looked over at the demon. “Sorry, old chap. No offence intended, I'm sure.”
The doctor replied with an extremely lengthy stream of clicks and tuts that made the smile that already adorned Spike's face grow even larger and even drew a throaty chuckle. Giles looked across to the vampire for a translation.
“He says none taken neither... So, pet, how come the Dark Slayer's got your panties in a bunch?”
“She... she terrorised mom and held her hostage.”
“Did she now?” Spike's voice took on a menacing tone at the very idea of anyone laying a finger on Joyce.
“Uh-huh.” The slayer nodded her head emphatically.
Giles took off his glasses and rolled his eyes. “And the fact that she borrowed your body and used it to sleep with Riley in no way has anything to do with your antipathy for her, does it ?”
“Well, maybe...” Buffy conceded.
“An' what?” asked Spike. “You think if she tried it with me I wouldn't notice the difference? Come on, love. Have a bit of faith.”
“It's you having a bit of Faith that I'm worried about. You thought that thing was me.”
“Only 'cause I was bloody delirious, love.”
“She always goes after what's mine. She seems to think that because we're both slayers that we should be the same. That it's somehow my fault that she had a screwed up home life and is incapable of having a meaningful relationship, so she'll take mine instead.”
“Cardboard was a meaningful relationship? P-lease. If she wanted him she must've been hard up.”
“And Angel and Xander and Giles-.”
“I beg your pardon?” the watcher interrupted.
“Okay, okay, so she didn't actually sleep with you... but she tried to convince you that I was the murderer and get you to side with her.”
Spike simply leaned over toward her, his fingers gently turning the ring that decorated the hand he held as he lifted it so that her fingertips brushed the scar at the junction of his shoulder and his neck.
“Yours, beautiful,” he whispered. “Absolutely, totally, irrevocably and eternally yours. Never doubt it.”
“How sweet! Bit of a change from the last time I came through town.” Faith's voice carried from the doorway. “Gee, B, you know all the best vamps.”
“Faith, quit with the wise-cracks and get in there,” Angel snapped from just behind the slayer's shoulder. “And can someone invite me in before I fry?”
“Actually, gramps, for the moment that would be a no, seein' as the man of the house is elsewhere. Come to that, I'm not too sure he'd invite you in even if he was here... and if you put that blanket down for a second you'd realise you're in the shade. The house faces north, you big drama queen.”
The elder vampire turned to Dawn, who pushed past both him and Faith to get into the house. “Oopsie. Did I forget to mention that the neighbour that was helping out is Wes. Bad me.”
“Dawn,” Buffy's voice held more than a hint of reproval. “Try to remember that you haven't said thanks to Angel or any of his friends for the assist getting you back from Sam and be nice.”
Faith turned to Angel. “Wesley? You didn't mention anything about seeing him. It's- I-.”
“You can do it, Faith. Don't worry. Wes is in no position to take the moral high ground,” he told her, his voice at once offering reassurance and yet sounding grim.
A sliding-pitched whistle interrupted the debate and Spike returned his attention to Buffy. He reached over and took the grip from her hand. “Relax for a minute, pet. Time to swap bags, love.”
“Look,” Angel suggested. “Why don't you let Faith take over?”
“I can do it, Angel. We already had the situation under control,” Buffy argued.
“Shh, pet. Gettin' all wound up won't help with the blood pressure.” The doctor hesitated over switching in a new, empty bag until Spike gave him the nod. “Giles, why don't you take the doc and Bitty upstairs and get her set up in the spare room? ...And make sure she gets a pint put back for every one she takes out. Can't take any chances after the blood she lost when that bitch had a hold of her. Angel, there's bugger all you can do here until you get an invite, so why don't you check to see if any of the rest of that bunch you brought with you are the same type as our jailbird here? ...if we decide to take things that way, which is something me and Buffy need to discuss before this goes any further.” The vampire turned his attention to Faith. “An' I'm led to believe that hot, sweet tea and biccies are the order of the day for these situations. Kitchen's that way.”
Faith opened her mouth as if to protest but Spike wasn't about to let her.
“...Assumin' you're here on some mission of restitution or redemption or to say thanks for the heads up or whatever.”
Everyone, finally and in some instances reluctantly, went about their appointed tasks and Spike smiled over at Buffy, still holding her hand in his. “You don't want her to be any part of this, do you?” he asked, pitching his voice so that it wouldn't carry through to the kitchen.
“No, for some reason I have this whole misguided thing about you getting off on drinking her blood. Duh?” Buffy answered sarcastically. “Or did you think I'd forgotten the effect slayer blood has on you?”
“Buffy, with her, that's just a fact of life. Her blood means no more to me than Harris's little, blue pills mean to him. It's you and how I feel about you that makes sharing blood between us special and you know that when I get like that there's only one woman that I'm thinkin' about...
Now, I say let her match you pint for pint 'cause the more of your own blood you have left at the end of this the more stamina you're going to have left for when me and not so little Spike finally get you alone...” The vampire's eyes twinkled with glee at the prospect. “...But the decision is yours. If you don't want her involved, then I understand.”
“Guess we should get our canine heroine back to her master then so she can see he's okay for herself... Well, hopefully okay?” Bee suggested to Wes.
The watcher gratefully rose from his spot in plastic seat hell, stretching in an effort to get the kinks out of his back. Once they'd found Spike, Wes had pointed out that there was little more of immediate concern that he could do. He'd volunteered to take Anya home and then join Bee at the veterinarian's. That had been twenty minutes ago, but to his back it felt like two hours.
“I'm sure he'll be fine. He wasn't exactly in the best of health when we got to him, but I can guarantee that Buffy wouldn't allow him to deteriorate, even if it meant some risk to herself,” Wes told her, treading lightly around the fact that he was now relatively certain that the orbs, if nothing else, seemed to stabilise the vampire's condition and loan him some of their strength.
“Good. They're a cute couple, don't you think?”
“They look good together, if that's what you mean.”
“Partly. More how they sorta fit, you know.” Bee shrugged, frustrated at her inability to pin down exactly what she did mean. “It's not as common as people think.”
“No, it's not,” Wes agreed.
“...But I think maybe you and Marie have a shot.”
“I could say the same about you and Giles. There seems to be more than a little electricity between you two.” Wes endeavoured to turn the conversation away from what he still considered a sensitive subject.
Bee shook her head. “He's cute... in a fuddy duddy kind of way, but I can't be what he needs.”
Wes checked that they had put enough distance between themselves and the other people around before answering. “If you mean the demon thing, I suspect he might surprise you.”
Bee waited as Wes opened the rear door of the car and then lifted the puppy inside. “A bit, I suppose, but that's the sort of thing we could work our way round if we wanted to. Mostly, I mean the demon hybrid thing.”
“I'm not sure that I understand.”
Wes didn't get an answer until they were both inside the car. Bee fiddled distractedly with her cigarettes and lighter, but waited until Wes shrugged his acquiescence before she indulged her habit. “Think of it like this... Imagine say, within limits, that different demons are like different breeds of horses, so Lily's parents had her... and she had Clem and Thomas... and Thomas had little Rosa, but Rosa ...and me, we won't be having any kids because in this analogy if demons are horses then humans are donkeys and that makes Rosa and me mules. It's just the way things are. Can't be changed... but you'd have to be blind not to see that your Rupert is a born father, the way he looks at Buffy and Dawn, even the way he was with Rosa when Lily was watching her while they were talking last night. He needs a little girl in ankle socks and ribbons to steal his heart away and keep him young before he turns into a crotchety old man and that's not something I'm capable of giving him. I'm going to be the proverbial old woman with her cat.
And besides... I think you're forgetting that I already have a date and your friend already has 'someone of whom he is very fond'. Now, let's get this dog home.”
Wes gave Bee a sympathetic smile. “There's a whole world of difference between being fond of someone and being in love and I'm quite sure if you gave yourself the chance you could do every bit as good a job of stealing someone's heart as any little girl.”
Bee, however, didn't even seem to hear him, lost as she was in her own little world.
“What have we got?”
The male nurse shrugged and passed over the clipboard. “Twenty nine year old male. Brought in with a potentially fatal stab wound through the upper thigh, going from inner to outer. No other visible injuries to suggest a fight. High probability that it was self-inflicted, though if we're to believe the patient a vampire did it, using a wooden cross of all things. He keeps shouting for his mother, saying if she comes back he'll get them this time... but when we rang the number in his wallet for next of kin we got some guy who said he used to be his guardian. Turns out his mother was murdered when he was four years old.”
“Sounds like he's one of ours, alright. I'll take it from here. What break are you on?”
“See ya in the canteen, then.”
“See ya, Holden.” The med student wheeled his patient into the Psych Ward. Theoretically, he was there only for assessment. Holden had a feeling that he was going to be there for a very long time.
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