I hope you enjoy.
Buffy awoke slowly – strangely – unable to move. Wriggling in her restraints, she realized exactly where she was and the reason for her immobility.. Somehow, in the middle of the night, Spike had awoken, spooned up behind her and gathered her into his arms.
Gently disengaging herself from his grasp, she eased off the sarcophagus to check on her patient.
Her first glimpse was promising. Some of the bruising and swelling had gone down and his cheekbone seemed to be rebuilding itself. However, his face still bore a permanent grimace of pain, which Buffy suspected must be his dislocated shoulders.
Running her fingers through the riot of curls on the sleeping vampire’s head, she said, “Spike, you need to wake up. We’ve got to do something about your shoulders. There’s no way you can be comfortable lying on them.”
His response was a groggy, “Bloody hell,” as he attempted to do so. “Lend a hand here, pet. Seem to be havin’ some difficulty getting upright.”
“Spike, what the hell happened to you? If I hadn’t’ve tripped over you last night, you’d’ve dusted in the sun, or bled to dust.” Buffy snaked her arm around his thin waist, and helped to push him into a sitting position. “What did you do to piss someone off so badly?” she asked, sympathy coloring the words that were harsher than she’d meant.
“Don’t rightly remember.” He shook his head, confused. “Went to a new club for a few games of poker and I must’ve won more than they wanted to pay out.” He groaned, trying to stretch out his back. “D’ya think you could help me reset the shoulders? Can’t do myself with both of ‘em out.”
One after the other, Buffy raised his arms, pulling them out slightly to realign things, and then pushed forward with all her weight behind her, to pop the shoulder back into its socket.
“Bloody, buggering FUCK!”
Spike rolled his shoulders and twisted his torso from side to side, gingerly testing out the function of his arms. “Better, luv. Thanks for the pain and suffering.”
“I’m really sorry for hurting you, Spike. There was just no –”
Cutting off her apology, he said, “No worries – been through worse in the day. Pain might linger for a bit – but give me a day or so and I’ll be right as rain.” He cast a searching eye around the crypt and asked, “Can do me a favor, pet?”
“Can it wait until after I stop off at home? I’ve got to let Mom know I’m still alive. She’s still not thrilled when I stay out all night.”
“No worries, pet. Just want you to find my duster, if you can.” He shifted, uncomfortably. “I get that it’s not your favorite piece of m’wardrobe, knowing how I came across it, but I’ve had it near thirty years. S’more of an homage these days, than a trophy piece.”
Buffy simply nodded. “Doesn’t matter, Spike. It’s a coat. If someone or something hasn’t stolen it I’ll bring it back.” Assessing the state of him, she added, “You okay for now?”
“I’ll manage. Think I’ll give the shower a go.” Flexing his left leg, he grimaced. “Leg’s a mite tender. If I remember right, the buggers broke it with a baseball bat. Feels like you set it good and proper, though. See you later, Slayer, and thanks for… well, everything.”
“Later, Spike,” Buffy said, smiling fondly. “I’ll pick you up some human blood from Willy’s to help the healing along.”
Waving her out the door, Spike attempted to stand – and realized for the first time he’d been conversing with the girl whilst starkers. And it hadn’t phased her one bit. Looking down at his Technicolor body, he noticed the sets of stitches and remembered. Three stab wounds.
He tried to catalog his injuries; to remember what happened. Bat to the head and face – healing. Broken leg and dislocated shoulders – reset and also healing. Busted ribs – aching, but healing. All good so far. Running his fingers over the knife wounds, he realized he’d be able to remove the stitches the next day. Quite the little seamstress, Buffy was. He also remembered her forcing him to eat a couple of containers of blood, which had gone a fair way towards healing his injuries.
He’d made it down to the lower level of the crypt and that’s when the waves of nausea hit. There was more – much more – to the injuries he’d received. He’d felt it when he climbed down the ladder. His bits and pieces… bruised beyond all recognition. And he remembered them being grabbed and twisted all but torn off. His stomach lurched as he recalled trying to fight when he realized what they were after, recalled being held down by four men, ripped into and buggered dry by the rest of the pack.
And Buffy had seen the wounds. She knew what had been done to him – and …
Vomiting up whatever remained in his stomach and sobbing wildly, he stumbled into the shower and turned the water on as hot as it would go. Stepping under the burning spray, he never heard Buffy re-enter the crypt.
“Spike?” she called out. “You downstairs?” Hearing the shower running, Buffy deposited the retrieved duster on the couch, and climbed down to the lower level, calling out his name again.
She approached the shower cautiously. “Spike, you in there?” Hearing sobbing she pulled open the curtain and found the distraught vampire huddled against the wall, hot water cascading over his reddening skin.
Buffy turned off the water, wrapped a towel around Spike’s waist, and led him to the bed. He tried to push her away, but she held on tight, whispering words of comfort, making shushing sounds and crooning softly to him, gentling him as best she could.
Settling him under the covers, she said, “Spike, it’s over. It’s gonna be okay, I promise. It’s not your fault.”
Looking up at her with the most wretched expression she had ever seen, he whispered, “But you saw… what they did to me. You touched me – their filth –” he broke off abruptly, unable to continue.
Buffy slid into the bed next to the overcome vampire – and hugged him tightly to her. “All I did was clean you up. Had to make sure you were okay. I’d have done the same for any of the Scoobies. Nothing’s changed, Spike.”
Pulling back a little, she placed a hand under his chin and tilted his face upwards so he could see her. “We’ve got history, Spike. You may be a pain in the ass, but you’re my pain in the ass. Nobody does this to someone I care about. We’ll find out what’s behind all of this, I swear it.”
Feeling him relax somewhat, she pulled something out of her pocket.
“One more thing if you can – before you go back to sleep. When I found your duster, there were cards scattered all around the area. All of them diamonds, now that I think about it. Do you have any idea what they mean?”
“I took a deck from that club – The Crazy Eights – as a souvenir. I guess they took exception to me lifting it.” Taking a deep, unneeded breath Spike added, “And when they were done with me, the bastards threw those cards at me. I think they took back the deck I had. Don’t rightly remember.”
As she watched him slip quietly into slumber, Buffy covered him gently with his blanket. She climbed up the ladder and closed the vault door behind her. There was something seriously wrong in the Sunnydale demon world and she had to look into it.