Bruises

Chapter 39 – Heads Up

Spike rolled over with a groan and reached out for the warm body he'd been dreaming about, but felt only cool sheets. He opened his eyes a crack then blinked in the pitch black room. He rolled over the other way, searching for the dim red numbers of the alarm clock, and was met with nothing but more darkness. His breathing started to accelerate as his disorientation grew. The last thing he remembered was Buffy kissing him in his morning sun drenched room, so why was it so dark now? How long had he slept?

He felt for the edge of the bed then reached hesitantly toward where the night table should be. It was still there, solid and sturdy under his fingers as they slid along the polished wood surface and bumped into the hard plastic of the alarm clock. So it was still there, too, just not working. Maybe the power had gone out, but no, it should still be light outside. Even if he'd slept all day, surely Buffy or Dawn would have woken him when they returned from school, or at the very least, in time for his appointment with Tara.

He scooted closer to the edge of the bed then carefully stood up, reaching blindly ahead as he took shuffling steps toward the door. His outstretched fingers met with the rough wood grain and he fumbled for the doorknob then swept the door open, blinking in the bright light that assailed him from the hallway.

He turned back to the room as he flipped on the light switch by the door. No wonder it was so dark. Someone had hung a thick, black quilt over the windows, effectively sealing out the sunlight. He noticed a note propped up against his small stack of books and smiled at his name scrawled across the front, the heart over the 'I' bigger than on the last note. He sat down on the bed and opened it.

Spike,

If you're reading this, then you woke up before I got home. You looked really tired, so I unplugged the alarm clock and covered the windows so you'd be able to sleep without being bothered.

Angel said he'd hang out until you woke up or I got home, whichever came first, so he should still be downstairs.

There's food in the fridge for you, in case you don't remember Mom telling you that, so make sure you eat. I have some plans for later tonight and you'll need the energy.

See you later, I love you.

Buffy

Spike slipped the note into his book with the other one then stood up and stretched. He was just about to make his way to the bathroom when he realized something; he hadn't had another nightmare. Yeah, he'd dreamed, but all his dreams had been good… great, actually… and they all – the bits he could remember, anyway – had been about Buffy.

A huge smile lit his face as he remembered the line in her note about him needing energy for later and he headed for the bathroom with a spring in his step. He emerged twenty minutes later in a cloud of steam with a towel wrapped around his waist and yelped, jumping back in surprise as he clutched at his chest over his heart. "Christ, Angel! You tryin' to kill me?"

Angel laughed from his position on the end of the bed. "No, but I was starting to wonder if there was somebody in the bathroom that was. What exactly were you singing in there? Sounded like somebody was trying to strangle you… while you were submerged in a tub full of pudding."

Spike smirked as he moved toward his dresser. "A song by the Sex Pistols. Great tune."

Angel chuckled. "If you say so."

Raising one hand to throw Angel a two-finger salute, Spike used the other to dig a t-shirt out of his drawer. "What time is it?"

"Almost eleven."

Spike nodded as he turned around, tugging the shirt over his head. "Didn't sleep that long then. Good."

"Any nightmares?"

Spike shook his head as he dug for a pair of jeans. "Not since late last night. All the dreams I've had since Buffy left for school have been… amazing."

"You think you're over them?"

Spike shrugged then stepped into his jeans and pulled them up, letting the towel drop to the floor as he did up the buttons. "Don't know. Guess I'll find out tonight, but the last one I had was different, so maybe I am. Bloody well hope so."

Angel got up off the bed and followed him back into the bathroom then watched silently as Spike gelled his hair and artfully spiked it. He got a look from the blond that dared him to say anything when Spike picked up his kohl pencil. Angel held up his hands in a placating gesture. "Do whatever you want, man, it's your face."

Spike grinned then carefully applied the kohl, smudging it just so with his fingertip. He quickly brushed his teeth and applied a small splash of cologne then scooped his jewelry out of the small dish on the counter, sliding his rings onto his fingers and thumb as he brushed past Angel. He clasped his necklace on then awkwardly fixed his bracelets around his wrists before fishing a pair of socks out of his drawer. "Just need to get my boots and coat and we can go."

When his boots were on, he snagged his duster out of the closet and slipped into it, checking his reflection in the mirror on the wall by the bathroom door. "Right then. I'm ready."

Angel stood looking at him, noting the greater sense of confidence in his posture. "Ready for what?"

Spike turned, his duster flaring, and beamed a smile at Angel. "For anything… everything."

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Spike slouched further down in his chair and sighed. He'd been told to wait because Mr. Giles wanted to see him and he'd been sitting there for almost fifteen minutes. He was going to miss Buffy's lunch period altogether if he had to wait much longer.

The door to Mr. Giles' office swung open and Mr. Pryce stepped through, followed by Mr. Gunn. Spike's eyes widened at their presence then his face froze in shock when Riley Finn shuffled through after them, his eyes red and puffy. Mr. Giles had an arm over his shoulders and was saying something quietly into Riley's ear. Riley nodded then turned toward Gunn, freezing when he noticed Spike. His face flushed in shame and he hurried for the door, missing the handle on the first try in his haste to vacate the premises. Gunn laid a soothing hand on his shoulder then reached around him and opened the door.

Riley darted through as soon as the opening was large enough for his frame and Gunn shot Spike a sad smile. "See you later, Spike. You're looking good, by the way."

Spike just nodded as Gunn followed Riley down the hall, then he startled slightly when Mr. Pryce spoke from his right. "Spike, you look well. How are you faring after your visit with your father yesterday?"

Spike looked up at him. "All right, I guess. Had a bit of an episode directly following, as I'm sure you've heard, but I'm better now."

Wes threw a glance at the door then reached his hand out toward Spike. "I'd like to stay and chat, but…"

Spike grasped his hand and shook it. "No worries, Mr. Pryce. If you need to see me, I'll be around whenever you have time." He nodded toward the hallway. "He looks like he needs your assistance a lot more than I do at the moment."

Wes smiled slightly and headed for the door. "Yes, well… I'll contact you soon, Spike."

"All right," Spike said to an empty doorway.

Mr. Giles cleared his throat as he motioned toward his office. "Spike, I'd like a word with you, if you don't mind."

Spike got to his feet and followed Mr. Giles into his office with a murmured, "Yes, sir."

After they were both settled into their chairs, Giles said quietly, "You had quite an ordeal yesterday and I would like to know how you're coping."

"I'm getting there, sir. Might have a few rough patches left to navigate, but overall, the road seems a lot clearer."

"Good. Good. Although I am glad that you seem to be doing better, that is not why I've asked you here. I have something of some importance that I would like to discuss with you and I want you to feel free to give me your true opinions on the matter. I don't want you to feel that you must acquiesce in deference to my position. I am not speaking to you now as the Principal of this school, but rather as the head of household, so please don't feel the need to temper your feelings."

Spike nodded. "All right, sir. I'll do my best to give you my honest take on whatever it is you want to talk about."

"I… uh… wanted to speak with you in regards to Mr. Finn."

Spike's eyebrow quirked. "What about him?"

"He left here in the company of Mr. Pryce and Mr. Gunn, as I'm sure you noticed."

"I did."

"Yes, and, well… I would like to ask if you would be amenable to… um… you see, he's been…"

"He's been removed from his home and you want to know if I'm all right with him staying at your house?"

Giles nodded. "Yes, that's it exactly. He wouldn't be there for more than two weeks or so, just until Mr. Pryce can secure him an emergency placement in the state group home. It would appear that his… uh… current mental state precludes permanent placement with a foster family."

"It's your house, sir. Don't see that I have any right to tell you who can or can't stay there."

"You are quite right, of course, it is my house, but as you are in residence, and will be for the foreseeable future, you do have a say in…"

"Whether or not the git that's made it his life's work to pound me into the ground every time he lays eyes on me should have full access to me in what should be a place of refuge?"

"Uh… well, when you put it that way…"

"How bad was it?"

"Pardon? I'm afraid I don't follow."

"What his Da did to him. How bad was it? I don't need details as I'm sure you couldn't give them to me anyway, but… was it just beatings or was it… more?"

"Oh. Um… both, actually. Since he was nine."

Spike closed his eyes and laid his head back on the chair with a quiet, "Bloody hell, that explains a lot."

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Spike meandered down the hallway, weaving in and out of different clumps of students as they collected things from their lockers or made their way to their next class. He didn't notice the multitude of stares aimed in his direction, some questioning, some bashful, and some lustful, as he rounded the corner for the hallway leading to the cafeteria. 'Riley Finn. Just what I needed. Finally seem to be clawing my way to the surface and now I've got Riley bloody Finn to contend with. Least he'll be on the third floor so I won't have to see him much, I hope. Bugger.'

He slipped through the open door into the cafeteria and looked around for Buffy's blonde head amongst the sea of California blondes. Spying her at their regular table, he slid up behind her, holding his finger over his lips as Xander looked up and caught his gaze. He smiled as he bent down and nuzzled her neck then nipped at her earlobe, her squeak of surprise catching the notice of several people at the surrounding tables. She elbowed him lightly in the chest and playfully taunted, "You'd better knock that off or my boyfriend will be really pissed. He's a jealous guy."

Spike caught the teasing tone of her voice and played along, "So where is this 'boyfriend' of yours? Don't see him here, so I guess it's finders keepers, now isn't it, pet?"

Buffy giggled as she pulled him down to the bench beside her, leaning close to snuggle into his chest. "Guess so." She sat up and pecked him quickly on the lips. "You're pretty cute so I'll guess you'll do."

Xander groaned, "Ok, that's enough. I'm getting diabetes over here from all the sweet."

Spike smirked at him then leaned into Buffy, nuzzling at her neck. "Can we go somewhere? Need to talk to you 'bout something."

She pulled back with a worried frown. "What's wrong?"

He nodded toward the door. "Nothing's wrong, exactly, but I'd rather not talk 'bout it here, all right?"

"Yeah, ok." Buffy stood up and collected her books. "Xan, can you dump my tray for me?" He nodded and she stepped away from the table. "See you later."

Spike followed her out of the cafeteria and down the hall to her locker, again not noticing the stares aimed in his direction, then waited quietly while she stuffed her books into it. She shut the door then took his hand and started down the hallway. "Library?"

"Yeah, that'll do."

She glanced nervously back over her shoulder. "Gonna give me a hint? Did I do something?"

He moved up beside her and draped his arm over her shoulders, pulling her tight against his side. "No, luv, you haven't done anything. Just need to give you a heads up 'bout something, is all." He held open the library door and ushered Buffy through then led her to the far back corner. When they were safely ensconced in the Ancient Civilizations section, he leaned against the stacks with a tired sigh, "Don't know how you're gonna take this news, pet."

Buffy stepped close and slipped her arms inside the duster then leaned up to nibble at Spike's neck. "Well, before you tell me, I need something."

Spike wrapped his arms around her and groaned quietly as she pulled his earlobe into her mouth. "And what's that?"

"My Spike smoochies. Haven't had any since this morning and I'm jonesing pretty bad."

Spike chuckled low and dipped his head, pressing their foreheads together. "So I'm meant to be your enabler, is that it?"

Buffy grinned. "Not my enabler, my dealer. So cough 'em up."

Spike whispered, "Yes, ma'am," and caught her lips in a kiss that started out slow and gentle and ended up with both of them clutching at each other and panting harshly.

Buffy rested her forehead on Spike's chest just below his throat and breathed out, "Wow."

Spike pressed his cheek to the top of her head and pulled her tighter against him. "That hold you for a while?"

"Yeah, at least until I get home, then I'll need another hit." She raised her head and looked him in the eye. "So what's the heads up about?"

"Finn."

"Riley? What about him? Did he attack you or something?"

"No, but apparently he and I have somethin' in common, luv. He'll be movin' into your house later today after he's finished at the police station."

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Thank you for all the ideas! I have a bit of a path to follow now and I'm working on this story again, so hopefully the updates won't be so few and far between. I'll list those of you that nudged me in a note a few chapters down the line, after I've fleshed some stuff out. You guys are awesome! Thanks again!