"No, it wasn't furry. It was hairy. Yes, there is a difference…" Giles snapped into the phone.
"Did you mention the glowiness?" Buffy asked him with a sniffle. He held up a finger and nodded briefly.
"It glowed. No…yes…no…no…yes. The eyes, or at least what looked like the eyes."
"And don't forget the scaly claw things. And the teeth," she added.
"It had claws and the teeth were rather sharp, more like fangs, only there were three sets of them. Catlike or crablike claws? Um…" he turned to her with a shrug. "Buffy got a better look at it than I did."
She held out her hand. "Let me talk to her."
He passed the phone and she held it to her ear with a sneeze. "Hey Will, what have you found so far?"
"Not much really. Were the claws big or tiny?" Willow responded curiously.
"Big, Freddy Krugerish."
"So not like crab pinchers?"
"And the teeth?"
"Tall, dark, and ugly."
"More than if Xander went to a party at the playgirl mansion."
"Runny and clear or thick and icky?"
"Thick and icky."
"How many eyes?"
"Just the two glowy ones."
"Legs and arms?"
"Two of each and a big fin thing down its back."
"Uh-huh," Willow muttered thoughtfully. "I see…"
"Well? Do you know what attacked us?" she asked.
"Xander wants to talk."
A loud click echoed and Xander inquired, "What does the bite look like again?"
She glanced at the bandage on her arm and thought back to the wound. "Four tiny holes like the dots on dice. And it glows a really gross shade of green. It doesn't go with my skin tone at all."
"And the area around the green dots?"
"Itchy, achy, and puffy."
"Ah-ha!" he exclaimed.
She sat up. "You know what it was?"
"No clue! Sorry, Buff. We've been through all of the dusty books and we still haven't found anything."
"Put Willow back on," she grumbled. A second passed. "Listen Will, you need to figure out what that thing was. Check the web, reread the books, call someone! I don't care. I'm getting tired of being here. No offense, Giles."
He waved her off. "None taken."
"I know, Buffy! We're doing the best we can without you and Giles. Everyone else is out there looking for it. Maybe if we find it, we'll know more. It won't be long before you can go home," Willow said optimistically.
"Call the second you find anything."
"I will. Just one more thing."
"What is it?"
"Don't die…again. And don't take Giles with you. We need him here."
"I'll do my best."
She hung the phone up and rubbed her aching forehead. Giles put his hands in his pockets. "Still nothing, I take it."
"Nothing. Zilch. Zero."
He sat on the arm of his couch and carefully peeled back her bandage. The little dots were still glowing a putrid shade of emerald and the area around it was even more inflamed. She winced as he gently sponged away whatever was leaking from the wounds and gave it a fresh dressing.
A few nights back, they went on a patrol when a creature leapt out from the bushes and bit her arm. It ran off after Giles hit it over the head with a 2x4. Ever since, she had a more severe version of the flu, which included hacking up green goo. The best part was that it was contagious. Giles started up with the same symptoms just minutes after she did, which happened right after she was bitten. So, they were both quarantined to his place. There was nothing to do but listen to vinyl records and drink tea.
She was going crazy.
"How are you feeling? Better? Worse?" he asked, pressing his hand to her forehead.
"I'm feeling a bit better. You don't have to fuss over me. I'm a big girl."
"You're burning up. I seriously doubt your fever has gone down at all."
"I took medicine for it. It should be doing something…"
"There could be some sort of antibody in the venom from the creature that attacked you. It could very possibly be counteracting the medication you've been taking."
"Oh fun. Special juju in Mr. Nasty's bite not only makes me sick, but keeps me sick. That's just the thing to perk me up. I'm doomed to a life of the ickies."
He'd placed a thermometer underneath his tongue sometime during her rant. It bobbed with every slurred syllable. "Don't dalk like dat. I'm sure you'll get beddar."
She smirked and a beep filled the room. He checked his temperature and a frown pulled at the sides of his mouth. He held it up for her to see.
"102.7 degrees. Wow. You're almost as sick as me."
"At least you won't be doomed to a life of the…uh…'ickies,' alone."
That made her laugh. Bad idea. It turned into a violent cough and he quickly passed her a tissue to catch the gross liquid thanks to the mystery beast.
"You need to sleep," he chided softly.
"I'm not tired."
"Then I'll go put on a pot of tea."
"Don't. I think I'm starting to feel a bit sleepy."
He smiled. "Are you sure?"
"I've had enough tea to be an official member of the British population. If my options are sleep or drink more, goodnight Giles."
"Alright. I'll go see if I can find anything to help you get some rest that you haven't already taken."
He got ready to move, but her voice stopped him. "I'm not the only one that should be resting. You're sick too. If you die, who's going to keep me company?"
"Exactly. It'd be me and your books. I don't like books."
He chuckled and it turned into a rasp and then a sneeze. She gave him her best 'see what I mean' face and he relented.
"Fine. I'll rest, but only if you sleep."
"Okay. It's a deal."
"Let's get you into bed. Can you make it up the stairs?"
"Please. I'm the Slayer! What can't I—" she stood up and fell over. Luckily he was there to catch her. "…do?"
"Don't worry. I'll carry you."
He lifted her into his arms and he took a few steps. A moment later, he had slumped onto the couch in a fit of wheezes.
"We're in bad shape, Giles."
"I'm afraid so."
She moved out of his grasp and sat beside him. "I think that we should just stay put."
"That appears to be the best option at the moment."
A yawn threatened to escape, but she quickly stifled it with the back of her hand. Soon, gravity tugged on her eyelids and her body unintentionally slid until she leaned against his shoulder. She was too tired to move and he was too out of it to even notice. Her hand clutched the sleeve of his gray sweater—which was softer than it looked like it would be—and she shut her eyes. He smelled like Earl Grey and thousand year old parchment paper. It was oddly soothing, and she drifted off, buried in the arm of that sweater. She had always liked it for some reason. It was better than his suits, that's for sure.
He fell asleep just minutes after she did.
"They aren't answering," Xander complained while he stood outside of Giles's door with Willow. "Should we go in anyway?"
"Isn't that like breaking in?" she replied hesitantly.
"C'mon, Will! We need to talk to them. We called and they didn't answer. We're at the door and they aren't answering. What if they're both dead?"
"So we're going in?"
"I guess so, but just because I'm concerned for their safety. I mean, I'm not the kind of girl that would break into Giles's. It's Giles. A demon, sure. I'd break into a demon's house any day of the week. Or vampire crypt. Or a bad person's house. But it's Giles. That's like breaking into Buffy's house. Or your house. I don't feel okay with that. It's not in my comfort zone."
"I know. That's why I'll be the one breaking in. You'll just be following."
"Okay. I can live with following. I'm good at that."
"Yes you are. The very best. Now stand back."
"Stand back? Why? What are you going to do?"
"Let me work, Will. I'm the one breaking in, remember?"
"Right. I'll be over here."
She stepped away. Xander faced the door with an expression similar to the one Buffy got on her face every time she said something witty to a vampire before its ass-whooping.
"Hello door," he began. "Are you ready to meet the wrath of Xander Harris and his brand-new sneakers?" he got ready for the kick.
"You aren't going to kick it down are you?" she gasped as she ran to his side.
"Yeah. How else are we going to get in there?"
She stood on her tiptoes and retrieved a key from the top of the doorframe. His gaze shifted between her and the key. "Oh. Right. There's a key. Keys open doors. Doors open because of keys. Why didn't you tell me there was a key there?"
"You told me to let you work."
He snatched it from her pointedly and opened the door. They pulled their masks over their faces and walked in.
"Buffster? G-man? Are you dying a terrible death or have you already croaked?"
Willow hit his arm. "Xander!"
"What? I was just asking! It's a perfectly legitimate question."
They wandered around the dinning room and kitchen in search of their missing Slayer/Watcher duo.
"Buffy? Giles? We found out what attacked you and why you're both sick. It's an Ailmentous Oxonous. Its bite makes the person sick so it can go in for the kill. The claws are only ice cream scoopers for people's organs after they've already chewed through the top layer."
"It's like a big, living, breathing, ugly piece of silverware…basically…" Xander offered.
"And the person that was bitten can infect others by breathing on them. That's why we're dressed like we're going skiing. We don't want to get infected. It's not because we're breaking in or anything. We wouldn't do that. There was a key…" she continued nervously.
"Smooth, Will. Real smooth."
She ignored his sarcasm. "The cure is a simple cocktail of magical ingredients. I brought it with me. You'll be out of here like I said you would, Buffy!"
Silence. They saw them on the couch from behind and had the entire conversation with the backs of their heads, but they still hadn't answered. Xander started to cross to the front of the couch.
"Earth to slaygal and bookman," he called and then stopped in his tracks.
They were both sound asleep. She was using him like a pillow and his arm was curled around her shoulders, holding her close. His expression wrinkled into repulsion. "This isn't exactly painting a pretty picture in my head right now."
Willow joined him and she grinned. "Aw. They're like two little cute kittens."
"More like a big, grown up cat and a baby cub."
"I think it's sweet."
He suppressed a shudder. "This explains how Buffy breathed on G-man. Talk about needing to repress memories. I might need therapy after this. I don't even want to know what happened to get him infected."
"You don't think…"
"Either way, they're making with the cozies and it's freaking me out."