Wounded Soldiers

A Buffy One-Shot

By Nichole (Neko) Johnson

Written: January 20th, 2003

Summary: continuation of the events from Season Seven's "Showtime": Spike's rescue and recovery. Slight Spuffy-ness (Buffy/Spike)—always Spuffy-ness…

Disclaimers: Buffy's not mine. ::cries uncontrollably:: (Spike's soul is, however—he promised it to me in return for a pack of smokes. ^_^)

~ "Wounds" ~

Despite his fatigue, despite all his aches, the vampire refused to let himself fall into rest as the Slayer silently ministered to his wounds; his one good eye, not swollen beyond use, fixed constantly on the stoic, warrior-like features of the woman seated across from him. Only his perceptiveness could see the tenderness there; the worry that had etched itself into her very flesh over the last few days, and it startled and amazed him…and nearly reduced his remaining strength to tears.

He was speechless for sometime, unable to comprehend this unlikely change of events, nor to put his thoughts to words. Spike was merely content to bask in the feel of worn wood and cloth beneath his raw skin, instead of dank stones and chains; content to soak in the tender touch of Buffy's administrations of his many wounds.

In was a long silence, as Buffy dabbed antiseptic over his cuts and bruises and dressed his larger wounds; putting great care and concern into each wound. Reaching his face, where a large gash split a garish mark through his upper lip, she froze momentarily, meeting the vampire's weary, thankful gaze. Something in the warrior's look slipped; her face pinching painfully as emotions warred to be unleashed. Relief, pity, concern; her eyes flashed with them, painful and poignant.

Spike's attempts at speech were, however, unrewarded. Wetting his chapped and torn lips, his voice only managed to come out as a hoarse, broken breath from the depths of his chest.

And suddenly the break in Buffy's mask was in place once more, as she turned her eyes hurriedly away; mouth working to repair the mistake her eyes had made.

"Ah…Here—your eye. Let me…"

Setting the swab of antiseptic down, she reached for the ice pack that had been provided her, pressing it to his swollen eye with continued tenderness that belied her sudden awkwardness.

The vampire finally managed to regain his voice.

"Thanks," he murmured softly in reply, his good eye also attempting avoidance for several heartbeats in the awkwardness of the moment.

The petite blonde scooted forward slightly in her chair, pulling the compress away for a moment to peer in cold scrutiny at his eye. Her lips pursed slightly as she winced nearly imperceptibly at the severity of his inflamed eye. Then she returned her gaze to his; gentle yet inscrutable once more as she replaced the ice.

He took the ice from her silently, letting his hand slide over hers until she relinquished the compress to him; allowing him to hold it to his own eye as she turned once more to the dressing of his other wounds.

There was silence again for several heartbeats, and then the vampire's voice broke into both of their thoughts.

"Buffy."

She seemed not to hear him, continuing to dab dubiously at the open, festering wounds on his chest.

"Buffy…"

Her movements were suddenly hesitant, broken by his dry, exhausted voice. Green eyes rose slightly to meet cloudy blue; brimming dark with indecipherable emotions.

"You came for me."

Spike's voice cracked slightly. It and his face were that of another man; one far more moved by emotions and the complexities of human compassion. It was a strange sight, those blue eyes brimming heavily with unshed tears.

Buffy's face seemed to thin; her expression tightening painfully.

"You…" The vampire took a shallow, unneeded breath. "You said you wouldn't come. Y-she told me…you wouldn't come."

Buffy licked her lips, her features tense. "The First," she murmured noiselessly, turning once again to his wounds; her movements becoming pronouncedly shaky.

The vampire chuckled brokenly, the sound hollow and painful to Buffy's ears. "I told her…you believed in me. I told her you would come."

"But I didn't believe in it."

The careful administrations ceased; the petite blonde leaning back slightly from her work, eyes not meeting the vampire's in a tense show of self-control.

"Spike."

His words were hollow this time, echoing of remembrances of pain.

"She knew I didn't believe it."

There was another marked silence between the two, while Buffy thought slowly on her words.

"The First…was messing with you. It messed with you before; it's messing with all of us."

Spike looked down at her, blue eyes dark and fathomless. "I know."

She returned his gaze briefly—eyes of matching, unfathomed green—and then silence once more stretched between them.

He leaned back in his chair, staring off into nothing as he continued to hold the cold compress to his eye. And she set down her medical swab, picking up several small squares of gauze and the roll of medical tape; settling down to bandage the garish, rune-like wounds on his chest.