Chapter 17

Buffy silently watched Sleeping Spike from the doorway, not daring to enter his room, just curious mostly. Her search for Dawn had yielded a note, saying that she and that other slayer, Linda, were touring through the tunnels and she didn't know when she'd be back. Oh, to be in her early twenties again. But she wasn't. She was old. It was official. She even preferred wearing sweats all day instead of dressing up because they were comfortable.

Spike shifted to snuggle into his arms with a soft murmur and Buffy slapped a hand over her mouth to muffle her giggles. Damn, he was cute when he did that. These were Spike moments she'd never taken the time to appreciate and she wasn't going to make the same mistakes. She winced to herself, remembering her first mistake and glanced down at her offending hand. Way to go Summers, way to say how happy you are he's alive. And the real dig was she'd made this mistake before. Different, but still the same.

In Sunnydale her own selfish thoughts and feelings and wants counted, not his. But she couldn't afford to be a Bitch Queen anymore. She and Joyce butted heads constantly, but that was only because they were so much alike. The last thing she could handle was Joyce growing up and making the same mistakes she was making right now. And then there was Spike. He'd taken what he could get from her and had been thankful but that was all changed now. Someone had restored his confidence in himself and if she wasn't careful she was going to miss this chance. It might be her last chance.

So she decided to cast aside that selfish, whiny little girl who was too afraid of what other people thought and focused on what she really wanted deep inside. And her first plan was to start a fresh page with Spike. Not to mention he was really hot and at the moment he was bare to the waist, his muscles sinfully on display amidst rumpled sheets. She frowned to herself to see the covers were kicked off of him but he was shivering slightly. Was it cold in here? Did vampires even get cold?

She entered without thinking about it, her maternal instincts finely tuned and tucked him in before immediately retreating back out. But she paused halfway, turning back around and approaching a second time. If this was the kids... With a little more hesitation, respectful, she touched the back of her hand to his forehead, her brow creasing with worry. He was warm. Really warm. Not a healthy Spike temperature. Did vampires even get sick? Maybe Spike was just weird since he seemed to be the exception to just about every other rule. No, she remembered only too well his normally cool but not cold body temperature. She nibbled on her lower lip and pulled a second comforter over him before leaving to find a thermometer and some advice.

Buffy wandered through the hallway, peering into empty rooms before sighing to herself. No adults, even that Evil chick was scarce. The words needle and haystack came to mind. But then something else occurred to her, "Um...Tyler?"

The little werewolf bounced into existence in front of her a few seconds later, "Hi, Buffy."

She smiled a little. It was hard not to with such a precocious face in front of her. And the blue eyes were so sweet she had a strong urge to cuddle him, "Hi, honey. Do you know where your dad keeps the thermometer?"

His little brow furrowed, "Like when he bakes a turkey for Thanksgiving? It's in the kitchen."

"No, not that kind." Spike cooks? Weird, "Like when you're sick."

Nodding his little head, "Ohh, that one. Over here." He bounced up the stairs, showing her the hall bathroom and pointing to the medicine cabinet, still lightly dancing. Could he be more hyper? But then we were talking about Spike's son, who's father always starting getting bouncy and eager when he was excited. And a thermometer in a medicine cabinet. Of course, where else would it be? She rummaged around, finding it and a bottle of Tylenol, "Are you sick?"

Shaking her head a little, "No, honey, I think your dad is."

The little boy let out a terrified yelp and raced out of the bathroom, sliding down the stairs and straight to Spike's bed. Tyler immediately sprang for the bed, tears in his eyes but he was caught in mid motion. He struggled until he realized who was holding him and he immediately sent up a panicked wail to Buffy, "Make him better!"

Buffy was shocked, having no idea he'd react this way. That didn't mean she hadn't followed after him in his mad dash to get to his father. Then she remembered herself. His mother. Stupid, Buffy, of course he wouldn't handle this well. Spike fidgeted and blearily opened his eyes at his son's distressed tone, jerking a split second later to see the state Tyler was in and tried to get up. Buffy pulled herself together, deciding it was time to take charge for both their sakes, "Spike, get your ass back in bed." Both Spike and Tyler froze, staring at her with wide eyes. She just sent him a look that dared him to continue his quest to free himself from the covers. After a second of consideration he relaxed back on the bed and she calmly handed over the thermometer, "Under the tongue and not a peep."

He took the thermometer and put it in his mouth, mumbling 'peep' as he did it.

"You said a bad word."

Buffy just rolled her eyes, both at the scandalous tone from Tyler and Spike being Spike, and situated the young boy on her hip before finding an empty spot on the edge of Spike's bed. Patiently wiping the tears off his cheeks and giving him a tender smile, "Alright, now honey-..."

"Mom?" Buffy groaned as two mom's chorused together, a split second before the twins popped in the doorway to see what was going. That was her new name now, something she still wasn't used to. Not Buff or Buffster or Slayer but mom. They froze to see their dad with a thermometer in his mouth and Buffy with her 'lecture' face.

Billy grabbed Joyce by the arm, "We'll come back."

They disappeared before Buffy could say anything and she just shook her head before reaffirming her attention on Tyler, "Okay, Tyler, can you look at me sweety?" Slowly those blue eyes looked up at her and she smiled softly, "Honey, your dad's just a little sick. Just a little bug. He'll be perfectly fine by tomorrow."

His lower lip trembled, "Promise?"

Nodding firmly, "Of course. I'm the slayer so I'll just slay those nasty germs."

His little eyes grew round and terrified, little body trembling, "You're a slayer??"

Slanting a glare at Spike who had the grace to look sheepish. It wasn't his fault the other little wolf cubs were terrified of slayers. Blame the little bitches for that one, not him, "Nope. I'm the slayer and there's a big difference. I'm the Sunnydale Slayer and I was here first."

His terror quickly turned into wonder, "You're her?" She blinked in surprise a second before his strong little arms were around her and squeezing tightly. She grunted a bit at his strength.

"Hey, cub." Spike voice was wheezy but still there and Buffy immediately started glaring for not following her instructions. He just calmly handed her the thermometer, showing his accurate temperature while chucking Tyler under the chin, "How 'bout saving some of her ribs, eh?"

The little boy looked sheepish and released her, jumping back and all bounce and energy once more, "Kay. Get better, da." Spike grinned and with a last awed look at Buffy the little boy happily bolted.

Raising an eyebrow, glancing at the thermometer, "I so don't think you should be 103°, Spike."

He sighed softly and relaxed back into a pillow, "Knew it was coming."

Her lip twitched, "Get premonitions of getting sick, now?"

He raised an eyebrow, "Maybe."

Making a face, "Sucks to be you."

Shrugging, "Well, I am a vampire after all." Buffy groaned and rolled her eyes at the horrible pun, "So, doc, will I live?"

She snorted this time and got up. Vampire. Duh, "I'll make you some soup."

He made a face, "No thanks."

She turned and frowned at him, "No? No, as in you're not hungry or as in you just don't do soup...or no as in you don't do my soup. I've gotten better. I've even made roast without the kitchen burning down. I mean, obviously you don't eat cause you're hungry but I've seen you munch when you're bored. Oh, spicy buffalo wings maybe?" He turned slightly green and immediately shook his head. What do you feed a sick vamp? She was hesitant to even suggest it but she decided to ask anyway since he was a vampire, "Sorry. Uh, something on the liquid variety?" And that was all it took. He was out of the bed and in the bathroom and Buffy winced. Right, water it is then.

***

Spike groaned softly, cheek resting on the cool surface. He did not feel good at all. It wasn't fair that he could get sick. It really wasn't. Nifty powers were fine but he had never been good at being sick, even when he'd been human. He always became such a whining poofter. But the soft hand rubbing his back in a comforting manner was nice. After he'd finished 'praying' to the porcelain god he must have dozed off a bit. Her voice was softer than a whisper, which his pounding head was deeply thankful for, "Think you're all done?"

Swallowing, his throat raw, "Hope bloody so."

She made a slightly amused sound before moving her arms under his and wrapping around his torso, "Come on, I'll tuck you back in." He wanted to protest, never liking being fussed over, but he was rather thankful she was holding him up because his legs felt like rubber and his head was throbbing now. Buffy steered him slowly back to bed and tucked him back in and he went without fuss, eyes already closing, "Not yet, you don't."

His voice was halfway between a whine and a croak, "What?"

She chuckled and lightly tapped his nose with her index finger. He slowly opened his eyes to see her offering him a spoon, "Open." He made a face but took the spoonful of whatever it was and closed his eyes again, swallowing with a grimace. It actually wasn't that bad. Within seconds he was asleep.

Buffy quietly put the cap back on the bottle of Tylenol and put it on his night stand, along with a box of Kleenex just in case. Retrieving a glass of tepid water for him, she made sure the blinds were drawn before silently exiting his bedroom. Tyler and Anthony immediately started dancing around her worriedly, not saying anything except to hover. Within moments of them Billy and Joyce were doing their own bit of anxious hovering and as Mrs. Pierce silently put a softly fidgeting Gwyn in her arms, Buffy whimpered.