The Word 'Vulnerable'

There's a hollow feeling in the pit of his stomach. It aches. Burns. Its cause is emotion and yet it manifests as physical. Guilt.

It shouldn't have been Cordy.

If anything the feelings are uncalled for. It isn't his fault that it happened to her. Even so, he can't help but take on the blame. Having a soul has messed him up. Damn it.

He lingers in the doorway to her room for longer than he probably should. In her bed, she looks small, pale, vulnerable. Cordy and the word 'vulnerable' don't go well together.

"You going to come in?" she asks him.

He cringes. He thought she was asleep. "Yeah," he replies, a little too quickly. "Yeah, 'course." He wets his lips with his tongue and then hurries to the chair by her bed and slips into it.

"It's okay, you know. I'm going to be fine."

"That's what everyone's been saying," he agrees. He clasps his hands together and studies intently the way his fingers interlock.

Cordy smiles. It's only a small smile nowhere near her usual bright and cheery grin - and it reminds him of what she's been through and how close she came to death.

"How are you holding up?" she asks.


"You seem very quiet today, Spike. And don't deny it," she adds quickly. "Something is going on with you."

He sighs loudly and lays his hands palm down on his lap. He stands up, swallows and looks at her. "I'm just tired. All that demon fighting, you know. Hard battle, that one was. You, yourself, should know that."

Cordy frowns slightly and gives him a look that suggests she doesn't believe he's telling her the whole truth. And then she shakes it off with the physical shake of her head.

"I'm glad you're okay," he tells her.

She looks surprised for a moment, but then smiles. "Thank you."

"I'll, uh, let you rest." He gives her one last look, a quick smile and then leaves.

The hollow feeling in his gut has lessened but there's something else there now, he realises. He heads out into the night, wondering when it was that he started to care so much about Cordy.