Disclaimer: Joss owns it all. If I did, Angel would have dentures and Spike would've kicked his ass all over Sunnydale in every episode. :D *Some dialogue from 'Killed By Death' and 'Becoming, Part 2'.* Just FYI, I'm not doing to deal with Der Kindestod (the demon) from this episode. Just assume things continued on like cannon.
"Bloody," Spike groused as he pushed on the handrims of the wheelchair. "Fuckin'," he huffed, trying to outpace the scent of Angelus and Dru having a righteous shag. "Hell!"
The final insult was hurled at a bystander who was foolish enough to be taking a stroll late in the evening near the mansion. Hearing the blood coursing through the man's veins, Spike motioned for the idiot to come closer, hoping to grab him unawares and suck down a nummy treat.
No such luck.
Being incapacitated, the blond vamp could do no more than watch as his prey fled in the opposite direction. Stifling a whimper from the loss of needed sustenance, he exhaled a pained sigh, heavily tired of the restrictive nature of his injuries. It wasn't like he could chase him down and eat him; an old bird could lap the contraption with a walker, for fuck's sake! Pulling a fag from his duster pocket, he lit the cigarette and inhaled deeply, the nicotine taking the edge off his hunger.
Spike was so lost in the soothing taste of the noxious chemicals, that he didn't realize the slight decline he was on, his chair slowly inching forward until it picked up speed and headed straight for the middle of town.
He was going to hit the side of the fast-approaching brick wall, unable to stop the wheels with his bare hands. Glancing around for something to grab hold of, a sudden thought occurred to him and he pulled the leather duster's cuffs over his hands, kissing them both.
"Make me proud, boys." Praying it would work, he slapped his leather-covered palms over the circular metal tubing attached to the outside of the large wheels.
It still burned, just not as much. Struggling to maintain a grip, he tried to bring the hated device to a gradual stop, only to succeed in stopping it so quickly, it ejected him several feet to land in an unceremonious heap at the bottom of a loading dock. Lying in a puddle face down, Spike turned his head and watched as the chair continued on its merry way down the street, empty of its passenger.
"Bugger," he muttered, sputtering ripples in the water.
"Jesus, man! Are you alright?"
The vamp gingerly turned his head to face the voice of what looked like an orderly, dressed in black scrubs and quickly striding down the cement steps to stand over his prone body. The man must've shifted him, because the next thing he knew, he was staring at the night sky overhead.
Mister Amiable nodded his head with a worried look. "Can you stand or do you need some help?"
Closing his eyes in exhaustion, Spike tried to prop himself up on his elbows. "Chair took off without me," he explained, gesturing behind him with his thumb.
Narrowing his gaze, the dark man leaned in and whispered, "You a patient here?"
Spike's stare was riveted to the very close jugular that seemed to throb and mock him in turns as he licked his lips. "Yeah, `m hungry, too," he explained without actually considering the man's words.
"Lets get you inside then," the orderly said, hauling the blond vamp up by the armpits. "There's a spare wheelie just inside the bay door."
It wasn't the most dignified thing Spike had ever experienced, being dragged into the hospital by a human… one who hadn't realized he was already dead. He supposed it could be worse, although he couldn't think of anything at the moment, being completely drained - pun intended - of energy. He was dumped onto the pleather seat as the man, who was beginning to resemble snack food, bent low and unfolded the leg and foot rests for his use.
"I'll get you a new gown, too," he offered as he stood, shuffling through the stockpile of patient gowns that were stored on one of the wheeled carts.
Eyes widening in horror as he took in his environment, Spike shook his head and immediately regretted it, becoming dizzy with hunger. "No! My arse won't be flappin' in the breeze for you knob-jockey's to be takin' a gander at!"
O positive guy, if Spike's nose was correct, gave him a funny look and chucked the gown back on the cart with a shrug. "Whatever you say, man. I'm not the one in wet-"
"Code Blue, room three-eleven, stat," rang throughout the hospital on the overhead speaker system, interrupting his prattle.
"Pillock," the vamp grumbled, watching as the orderly took off down the hall towards the stairwell without so much as a by your leave.
Glancing down at his hands, Spike grimaced with pain as he clenched his fists against the red welts marring each palm. Gritting his teeth, he began wheeling himself into the hospital corridor, ever on the lookout for a failing body that no longer had use of its blood supply. A vamp couldn't pass up an opportunity such as this, especially one in his state, and culling the human herd of its sick or weakened pulsers was all he had the strength to do.
She couldn't recall the last time she thought or spoke of Celia, not that she wanted to forget the memory of her favorite cousin, but remembering her death was something totally different. Whatever drug they'd given her brought the scene back into startling focus.
Slowly, Buffy sat up in the hospital bed, steadying herself before she fell. Her robe was untied, so she closed it to keep the draft from giving her a deeper chill than she already had. Making her way to the door, she shifted half of her body to peer into the hallway, a janitor mopping the floor the only thing filling the deserted space.
Stepping from her room, she shuffled down the corridor, the plastic on the bottom of her slippers scuffing the newly polished tile. With no warning, bright light lit the hallway, as she stood rooted to the spot, watching her 'child self' continue walking down the empty passage. Stress and worry etched her face as she passed by carts containing surgical equipment and places full of beeping machines, nervously glancing at each door for Celia's room.
The light shone brightest from under the door down a few paces further as she edged to the entrance and hesitantly pushed on the wood to gain access. Passing an empty bed, she approached the curtain where Celia lay, pulling aside the fabric.
Her cousin had been asleep, but the moment she woke, she started to scream, her hands in front of her as if she was trying to shove something away.
Buffy frowned in confusion and panic. "What's wrong?"
The girl flailed helplessly, shouting at the top of her lungs, terror lacing the air as she tried to gasp for breath.
Tears filled the little blonde's eyes as she began to pace, staring at her beloved cousin. "I don't know what to do, Celia!"
Unhearing, the dark-haired girl persisted with swatting at an unseen attacker, desperate to relieve the pressure from her chest.
Trying to help her, 'child Buffy' grabbed at the air in front of Celia, but was shoved back, her hands icy cold. Seeing she couldn't do anything without getting hurt herself, she screamed towards the door, praying someone would hear her.
"Help! Help! Help! Somebody help!"
Finally managing a gasp, Celia yelled, "Get it off of me!"
"Come on, Celia, fight it!" she pleaded while still shouting for an adult.
But no one came, despite all the screaming.
In her sleep, Buffy wept.
Rolling along the quiet corridors, Spike would occasionally lift his nose to judge the mortality of the patients in the occupied rooms, growling about how unfair it was that everyone seemed healthy except for an extreme case of the sniffles. It wasn't like he was searching for something unreasonable… just a sagging husk mere moments away from meeting their maker is all he asked.
Spinning around the corner, he screeched to a halt when he spied a familiar brunet head resting against a waiting room wall, the scent unmistakable. Backing gradually into the shadows, he observed Xander's chest rise and fall slowly, indicating he was sound asleep.
A sly smile crept over Spike's face as he began inching his way towards the whelp, wondering if he'd stay slumbering long enough for him to firmly embed his fangs in the soggy boy's neck. He was nearly upon him when he caught the aroma of the girl that'd driven him batty since he'd slammed into SunnyHell.
"Tonight's my lucky night," he mused softly as he reversed his movements and came to a stop in front of the door leading to what he supposed was the Slayer's room.
But something made him hesitate. Glancing between the snoozing lackbrain monkey boy and the room that held Rebecca of SunnyHell Farm, his gut instinct was telling him something wasn't kosher. Depressing the latch, he quietly opened the door and wheeled himself into Buffy's room.
The darkness a non-issue, he maneuvered his chair around her bed, slowing his progress the closer he came to her face, noticing the bruises marring her flawless skin. He could also smell the sickness lingering in her system as her body heat continued rising, her breathing shallow, and chills wracking her shivering form.
"Peaches must've taken a bite," he mumbled, tilting his head to scent the air once more.
Frowning, he stared hard at the tear tracks lining her cheeks, wondering if the cause was his now de-souled grandsire or something entirely different. Spike didn't think it good form that grandpoofy decided to assail the Slayer while she was less than par, never even considering the notion himself as it took all the fun out of the dance.
"Celia," she whimpered in her sleep, reaching out to clutch only thin air, frustration evident in her drowsy voice.
Ah, definitely of the different variety, though he held no illusions that she remained unscathed from Angelus' previous attacks. Moving closer, he pondered what it would be like to taste her blood, to bathe in its rich, crimson glory. Sure, it'd be like all the others with that extra spicy kick… but there was just something different about this Slayer that set her apart from the others.
"I love you," she sobbed unexpectedly, curling into herself as her huddled form shook.
Her impassioned plea shot straight through to Spike's unbeating heart. That's what it was! This Slayer… loved. She had a family, friends and loved ones that stood by her while the previous wanna slay brigade bitches had no one. Angel might have twisted her devotion, but it didn't stop her from loving others just the same. Staring at the small figure in the middle of the hospital bed, he contemplated what the world would be like without Buffy Summers in it. And with stunning clarity, he came to the same answer he'd arrived at many times prior, much to his dismay.
"Why are you here?" a small voice asked listlessly, drawing Spike's attention.
Cocking his head slightly, he smirked and placed a hand over his heart. "I'm wounded, Slayer. I know I didn't bring flowers for the invalid, but at least I showed up."
Scrubbing her eyes with the back of her hands, she groaned and flopped onto her back. "I don't have the energy for this."
Rubbing the back of his aching neck, the blond vamp sighed. "Truth be told, neither do I."
She turned her heavily drugged gaze towards him. "Why are there three of you?"
"I'm like Lay's crisps – can't have just one," he suggested with a wink.
"Oh, God… it really is you."
"Just sussed that out, did you? Little slow on the uptake, eh Slayer?"
"Shut." She breathed in deeply and blew it out slowly through her nostrils. "Up."
"I think I just wet me nappies," he snarked. "My personage is all a flutter with fear!"
Whether it was from the drugs or how ridiculous he sounded, Buffy couldn't help but chuckle. "Why aren't you dead yet?"
Grinning to hide the hurt her words provoked, he moved closer until he was almost nose-to-nose with her. "What, and miss seein' you all laid-up with a broken heart from your honey pie? I think not."
She sobered instantly and shifted away from his probing gaze. "When I get out of here, I'm so gonna kick your ass," she promised him.
"Why not now, Slayer? Thought you were invincible," he taunted, backing away from her all too tempting neck.
Turning, she pointedly looked at his useless legs and then to his face. "Thought you were the Big Bad?"
"Shut your gob!" he snarled, settling further into his chair. "I am the Big Bad… just, you know… on hiatus."
Flippantly waving her hand, she sighed heavily, closing her eyes in exhaustion. "Yeah, whatever you say, Spike."
Several moments passed in silence, neither too keen to start another argument because it drained what little reserves each had, both content with the low hum of the heating system. It was nice for a change, to sit and just be with no words, though Spike wouldn't have wanted it to remain thus, restless as he was. Picking at the remaining nail polish flaking off his nails, he started becoming drowsy as he glanced at the clock, noticing sunrise was due in about two hours. He was about to speak when he became incredibly tense, glancing towards the door, his stance sending signals to the Slayer to be at the ready.
Buffy tried to sit up, but he laid his hand on her arm and shook his head 'no', pointing to the door and his ear, telling her silently he was listening to something outside. It wasn't like he cared if the Slayer were snatched away by Angelus, but Spike wanted to steer clear of the deranged general grumpy-pants… at least, that's what he told himself.
The unmistakable sound of Beethoven's ninth symphony, 'Ode to Joy', echoed down the hallway to the Slayer's room, whistled by the gormless tit himself. Bracing himself, Spike kept his eyes steadfastly on the door, ready to wheel himself out of there in a quick second. However, he didn't expect…
"Visiting hours are over," Xander stated firmly.
Spike could just imagine the smirk on poofdaddy's face. "Well, I'm pretty much family."
"Yeah. Why don't you come back during the day? Oh, gee, no, I guess you can't."
The blond vamp had to give the whelp credit for staying cool in the face of a bloody killing marvel.
Getting frustrated with his facial expressions, Buffy poked at the hand resting on her arm. "What do you hear?"
Bloody chit was gonna be the death of them both! Slapping a hand over her mouth, he pinned her to the bed, bending over the railing to hiss in her ear. "Your White Knight is out there squarin' off with Angelus and if the git hears you're awake, you can kiss your bumblin' mate out there good-bye."
Her eyes widened and teared up, nodding slowly, breathing from her nose as her lips pursed underneath his fingers. Noting her acquiescence, he had all intentions of removing his palm, but her mouth was so soft and warm - nothing like Dru's - and he let it linger.
Their eyes connected for a moment and a mutual understanding flared between the two blonds as he removed his hand, lightly skimming her features with his nimble fingertips. He could still smell the sickness clinging to her, but it was starting to leave her body and he thanked whatever deity listened that he wouldn't have to see her ravaged by the dreaded virus that'd claimed so many people throughout history.
Tracing her eyebrows, he felt the warmth of her fevered skin begin to cool from his touch, wondering if she was allowing this because she was too tired to fight or she actually wanted his touch. Leaning as close as his battered body would let him, he gently rested his forehead on hers, softly kissing her nose.
"You're too beautiful to die," he whispered, barely audible, fearing the vamp outside would hear him.
As if on cue, Spike heard the disgruntled vamp threaten the boy. "If I decide to walk into Buffy's room, do you think for one microsecond that you could stop me?"
"Maybe not. Maybe that security guard couldn't either. Or those cops... or the orderlies... but I'm kinda curious to find out. You game?"
Score one for Harris! Spike mused.
There was a pause, and then, "You still love her. It must just eat you up that I got there first."
Spike stiffened for a moment before shifting his gaze to the lethargic girl, knowing she never heard her lover's words. But in true hero style, her knight in tarnished armor defended her honor, albeit with a certain amount of nervousness.
"You're gonna die… and I'm gonna be there."
"Tell her," Angelus started, but stopped, lifting his nose to scent the air, frowning. "I stopped by," he finished distractedly, throwing the bouquet of flowers at Xander.
There was nothing more as Spike heard the boy release a heavy breath, full of relief, and fall into the seat he'd vacated when he'd spied Angelus. Satisfied that McBroody had departed the scene and the whelp was once again nodding off, he returned his attention back to the Slayer.
"Is he gone? Is Xander safe?" she asked so softly even he had trouble hearing her.
"Chicken Little is kippin' rather nicely outside," he confirmed for her. He pulled away and resumed his position in the borrowed wheelchair. "I should be goin', gonna be light soon."
"How on earth did you get here in the first place, Spike?" she asked in confusion, as another thought occurred to her. "You haven't eaten anyone, have you?"
Snorting mirthlessly, he ran his fingers through his curls, making them stick straight up. "`M so bloody famished, Slayer, I'd eat Harris if I thought it'd help!"
Throwing the covers off her weakened body, she tried to get out of bed. "There'll be no snacking of the Xander-shaped friend!"
Lacking any effort, he shoved her back onto the bed. "Keep your knickers on, Slayer, I'm not gonna touch him. And you need to stay in bed `til you're all healed up, else loverboy'll get a right whiff of your state and end things before you even knew he was there."
Pouting, she tunneled under the covers, pulling them up to her chin. "It's only the flu, it's not like it's monsterrific."
"Says the chit who never lived through the pandemic flu of nineteen-eighteen," he chided as he inspected her bruised arm. "Over a hundred and fifty thousand people died in the UK alone, Slayer. Never underestimate your opponent – especially the smaller ones."
Biting her lower lip, tears formed in her eyes once more. "I have, haven't I?"
Tucking her arm next to her, he smiled sadly. "Want me to lie?"
"Will it make me feel better?"
"It'll give you a false sense of security, but yeah, it'll probably make you feel better."
Trying to stifle a yawn, but failing miserably, she sighed. "Fine. I know I screwed up. Royally."
"That's my Slayer," he said, quirking his lips in a grin.
"Your Slayer?" she huffed lightly, burying further under the hospital blanket. "I don't think so."
Grasping the fingers of her uninjured hand, he rubbed his thumb over her knuckles. "Yeah, my Slayer," he said wickedly.
Popping one eye open to stare at their hands, she yawned, desperate to stay awake. "Your Slayer to kill," she stated in a soft, resigned voice.
His gaze flashed to hers. "Well, then I'm your vamp to kill. Seems only fair."
"Sorry, number one on my list is a formerly cryptic, now homicidal lunatic vamp. You'll just have to wait your turn," she laughed quietly.
"As long as I know it'll be you and me at the end, I can wait," he assured her, squeezing her fingers.
"You and I will always dance," she murmured, drifting in and out of sleep, curling her hand in his.
"That we will," he promised, gently brushing away a stray hair on her forehead. "Buffy, I need to let you know somethin' before I go."
"No going… staying is good," she mumbled, but struggled to keep her eyes open.
Ignoring the pang in his chest, Spike pressed on, trying to outrun the sun. "Angelus has been snoopin' around some ancient texts, lookin' for somethin' called Acathla. Name mean anythin' to you?"
"Never heard of it, but I'm sure Giles has. If it's ancient and texty, he probably has it memorized."
He placed the hand he was holding to rest on her stomach, wheeling back from her bed. "Yeah, well, make sure Tweedy keeps his ears open for anythin'. If Angelus wants it, it's a safe bet it'll involve endin' the world or some such rot."
Opening her eyes halfway, she looked at him curiously. "How come you don't want to end the world?"
Rubbing the back of his neck, he pulled out the last cigarette in his pack and lit up. "We like to talk big, vampires do. I'm goin' to destroy the world," he mocked in a deep, manly voice.
"You can't smoke in here, you know?" she admonished when he took another drag. "One puff and we all go kablooey."
"It's my last one, let me savor it in peace, you bint," he growled, flicking the ashes to the floor. "Anyways, as I was sayin' before I was rudely interrupted… that kinda nonsense is just tough guy talk, struttin' around with your friends over a pint of blood."
"Village People Macho-man stuff, huh?" she teased.
He glared at her. "Pansy-arsed bum bandits, the lot of `em, you'd do well to remember that. But the truth is… I like this world."
"`Course!" he said with a boyish grin. "You've got… dog racin', Manchester United." Sucking in the last of the smoke, he blew it out away from her face. "And you've got people… billions of people walkin' around like Happy Meals with legs. It's all right here."
"But?" she asked, knowing there was always an exception.
"But," he continued, stubbing the butt out on the Formica top of her side table. "Then someone comes along with a vision – a real passion for destruction."
Her eyes lowered, as she finally understood what Spike was saying. "Angel."
"Angel, Angelus… they're one and the same, pet, and he could pull it off. Goodbye, Piccadilly. Farewell, Leicester Bloody Square. You know what I'm sayin'?"
"Yeah," she whispered morosely. "First thing I see Giles, I'll get him on it."
"Ta, pet," he nodded, wheeling closer one last time. "It was a good night to live, eh, Slayer?"
A smile broke out over her face as she reached out to pat his hand. "It was, Spike… thanks."
Covering her hand with his own, he brought it up to kiss the underside of her wrist, waggling his brows. "Promise me the last dance, Buffy?"
She inhaled sharply at the tenderness of his actions and the sound of her name on his lips. "Try and keep me from it."
Grinning from ear to ear, he winked at her and backed away. "That's my Slayer."
Rolling around her bed towards the entrance of the room, he slowly opened the door and peeked around the corner to make sure Harris was still slumbering. Yup, the dopey watchdog was still snoozing, and having one hell of a dream if his twitchy legs were any indication.
Heading down the corridor, he caught the scent of death, lingering near the pediatric ward, but he kept going. Children were non-negotiable for him. He'd never end a child's life, no matter how close to death they were. Moving on, he spied the blood bank and wheeled himself inside; thankful no one was present to cause him problems.
Several moments later, Spike walked out of the lab, pushing the reviled chair in front of him as he headed back towards the back of the hospital, licking his lips of the remaining blood. He and the Slayer had the mother of all coup's to pull off and Dru, the cheating bitch, was gonna get the surprise of her life.
Bursting out of the docking bay doors, Spike yelled at the top of his lungs, thankful to finally be free of the blasted metal contraption.
"That's right! Big Bad's back in business!"