Picks up during "Dead Things".

Chapter 1

A week before the Slayer's birthday…

Spike was fading in and out of consciousness. His face was massively swollen on the one side, the eye forced shut, and the back of his head was bleeding from repeated impact with the pavement. Slayer really did a number on you this time, mate.Corinne Larkin came out of the police station and turned down the alley to walk to where her car was parked behind the building.

"Oh, my God!" she exclaimed, rushing over to the injured man. "Sir, can you hear me?" He doesn't really give her a response, so she took out her cell phone and started dialing 911. "Hi, I need an ambu-" A pale hand clamped around her wrist, bringing the phone down from her ear.

"No hospitals," he croaked.

"Listen, buddy – you need medical care. I'm pretty positive you have broken bones and a strong concussion."

The blonde man opened his good eye and tried to pin her with a serious look. "Really, I've 'ad worse. I just need to get inside, and I'll be fine," he rasped. He tried to sit up. His fuzzy vision kept showing two of the girl. Cute. Now, which one's real?

"Look…" she starts, pushing him back down with her hand.

"Spike."

"Spike. I'm a doctor, okay? I'll make sure you are taken care of."

"They don't really serve my kind, pet," he insisted.

She grabs the wrist of the hand he has wrapped around hers, and feels cool skin and no pulse. "Oh!" Corinne's eyes widened. "You're…"

"Yeah, but I won't hurt you. Now, if you'd let me be on my way, I'd like to avoid sunrise." He tries to get up again, but Spike's too dizzy to push her out of the way.

"Don't be so stubborn! I bet you can't even walk straight, in your condition. My car is behind the building. Let me pull it around and take you home…please?"

She's so sweet and earnest about it, and he's so tired…Spike gave her a tiny nod; she smiled, and hurried off. He tries sitting up (without throwing up) while she's gone. Score one for concussion, he internally groaned.

Corinne pulled up in a late-model import, headlights off. She ran around the front and opened the passenger door, then came over to help him.

"Okay, we're just going to take our time and do this nice and easy," she said. "It's only a few feet, but don't be afraid to tell me if you're feeling too dizzy."

"Yes, Doc," he quipped, though she can tell even this is an effort.

They went in stages – getting him to sit up, then rise up on his knees, then put one foot on the ground, and the other. Spike partly accepts the gentle treatment just because it's been so long since anybody cared. Finally, he was in the car, and ready for a long sleep. She smacked the back of his hand.

"Hey! You can't sleep, yet! Head trauma like this, you could slip into a coma!" she barked, before running round to the driver's seat.

"Same rules don't apply, pet. Sleep is part of how we heal."

She looked dubious, then handed him her phone. "I'd still feel better if someone watched over you. Is there a friend you can call?"

Spike scowled, punched in the numbers, and pressed 'send'. "Clem…yeah, can you be at my place in around ten? Thanks, mate. I'll explain later." He closed the phone with a grimace and handed it back to her. "There, you happy?" he snapped.

"Don't have to get snippy. I'm just trying to be a good doctor," she quietly replied.

Bloody hell, he'd hurt her feelings. "Sorry. I'm not at my best," he muttered.

"It's okay. I've had worse patients. Where am I heading?"

"Uh…Restfield Cemetery," Spike replied, suddenly embarrassed.

"Oh. Makes sense, I guess. Do you…like it there?" She wanted to keep him talking, for her own peace of mind.

"It's not too bad. Found a cozy crypt, fixed it up. Even have a proper bed, and everything. Electricity, too."

"That's good."

"So…why aren't you…?" Spike waved his hands in the air to simulate a panicking person.

"Freaking out?" she supplied. "Well, there was a story going around last summer, at the hospital, about a white-haired man saving people from monsters. The rumors stopped after that horrible riot last October, so I figured the 'hero' moved on or died…but it was you, wasn't it?"

Spike ducked his head and muttered something unintelligible, before answering. "Yeah. Guilty as charged. I'd made a promise to a lady. Didn't realize I'd gained a reputation with the humans…"

"It's more of a whispered myth, but yeah, people noticed. We're almost to Restfield. Is your place close to the street?"

"Not exactly. I think I can manage, though, all the same. My legs are fine."

"You're going to need help getting inside," she insisted.

Spike chuckled, which ended in a cough. "As you wish."The crypt was in sight, when Corinne couldn't contain her giggles any longer.

"A fine pair, we make," she guffawed. "With Spike's equilibrium shot, they were meandering about like a couple of drunks as she tried to keep him upright.

"Yeah, yeah – laugh at the injured vampire," he huffed, scowling down at her. "Ow. Expressions hurt."

"Just a little bit farther, and I'll get you fixed up," she promised, patting the kit slung over her shoulder.

The crypt door was left open long enough for her to see to light the candles. Spike settled into his chair.

"I thought you said you have electricity," she said, confused.

"I do, but most of the wiring is down below."

"Well, I can make do." Corinne set the tackle box down and opened it up, revealing a lot more than band-aids and rubbing alcohol.

"That's quite a stash you have there, Doc."

"I got my EMT cert before going into med school." She ripped open a pack of pre-moistened antiseptic wipes. "I always travel prepared. This might sting."

"Yeow! Might?!" Spike howled as she applied the pad to the cut over his eye. "Bloody hell, woman!"

"Sorry!" she said, wincing. "Once I get you cleaned up, then I can numb this before I stitch the cut. Just try to take deep breaths and focus on something pleasant."

Breathing wasn't actually something he wanted to do in here right now. Buffy's scent still permeated everything, and though he loved her and wanted to protect her, it hurt that she had attacked him so viciously. He allowed his mind to wander as Corinne gently ministered to his face.

"Spike?"

"Hmm?" opening his good eye.

"I need to reset your cheekbone. It's crushed inward."

"Alright, pet. Just do what you need to." He prepared for the pain by gripping the armrests, but as she manipulated the bones, he found his body had gone into shock. He felt numb. It was nice.

"That's better, she murmured. "I need to lift your eyelid and check the status of you eye." She reached for a tiny flashlight.

Spike was about to respond, when Clem burst in the door. "Sorry I'm late! My mother called just as I was on my way out the door. Hi!" he waved to the human. "I'm Clem. Is this a bad time?"

She blinked and shook her head. There was a saggy-skinned…guy…in the doorway. "That's your friend?" she asked Spike.

He chuckled at her wide-eyed expression. "Clem may look scary, pet, but he's as 'armless as St. Nick. Aren't you, mate?"

Clem closed the door and walked further into the crypt. "Oh, yeah! I'm not really much for interacting with humans. I don't exactly blend in. Anybody want some Cheetos?" He held up a new bag.

The resident shook her head 'no' and resumed her doctoring. Spike hissed as she pried open his eye. She looked apologetic, but continued, shining the pen light on his eye. He tried to jerk away from the bright light, so she released his face.

"A couple broken blood vessels, but the eye appears okay. Do you have any ice?"

"Check the fridge," he replied, pointing over in the corner.

Corinne got up to look, so Clem came around to see his friend. "Whoa, buddy! What attacked you tonight? Did you warn the Slayer?"

"Looks worse than it is, mate," he replied, looking away.

"You want me to tell her? Cuz I can…"

"No!" Spike exclaimed vehemently. Instantly, Clem understood, and nodded, though his red eyes seemed to glow with anger in the dim light.

"What's a Slayer?" Corinne asked curiously.

"Hero type. Saves the world from evil. Otherwise known as Buffy Summers," Spike filled in, tersely. "If we're done playing doctor, I'd like to go get some rest."

"Uh, sure, Spike. Here's the ice." She tossed it to him, then started packing her supplies.

"Doc…I'm grateful, really. No one's…well, let's just say that few people would have gone to so much trouble for me. Thank you," he said sincerely.

She patted his shoulder. "Don't mention it. Just doing my job." Corinne slid the strap over her shoulder and made for the door. Her hand was on the handle when Spike spoke.

"Hey, Doc! What's your name?"

"Corinne. Corinne Larkin. Good night, Spike. Nice to meet you, Clem." She left, closing the door quietly.

"Nice girl," Clem noted. "For a human." The demon sat down facing the vampire. "You wanna tell me what happened?"

"Not particularly," Spike sighed. "I just want some blood, and to sleep for a week."

Clem knew not to press, and helped his friend without another word. Once Spike was settled in bed for the day, Clem sat watch up above. That nasty Slayer wouldn't get the chance to sneak in and finish the job.