Knife wounds weren’t something hospitals ignored, not even Sunnydale Memorial. Still, Giles’s chest wound, while not a killing blow, was deep enough to need stitching to stop the infernal bleeding and he wasn’t about to let any of the children take needle and thread to his flesh.
Joyce pulled open her door after his barrage of knocking, sleep rumpled and sweet looking. “Mr. Giles?”
He cleared his throat, then winced, lifting his hand to cover the bandage under his shirt. “You wouldn’t perchance know anything about putting in stitches, would you?”
“I took a class after I found out about-,” she waved her hand in his general direction which could have meant anything from ‘You’re a filthy, rotten liar’ to ‘My daughter’s the one girl in all the world that can make demons piss their pants by smiling at them’.
“Wonderful,” he said, grimacing slightly. “Then I seem to be in need of your services.”
She stepped back to allow him entrance even as she asked worriedly, “Demons? Is Buffy okay?”
“An old friend with a twisted sense of humor, your daughter in the heat of battle, and an unfortunately placed letter opener,” he replied, stepping over the threshold. “And Buffy’s fine.”
“I’ll get the first aid kit,” she said, waving him towards the couch.
Giles sat, sincerely wishing for a glass of Scotch. The thump of the kit against the coffee table startled him out of his daze and he focused on Joyce’s worried face. The adrenalin from the day was quickly fleeing and he wanted nothing more than to stretch out on this couch and sleep for the rest of the year.
“Are you okay?” she asked, folding gracefully to sit beside him.
“Tired,” he said with a little shrug, then winced again as the lift of his shoulder tugged his wound.
She nodded, her hands fluttering up before she finally delicately began sliding buttons on his shirt from their holes. He felt the flush begin to creep up his throat and he kept his eyes trained on her face as she focused on the buttons. The brush of her fingertips as she helped pull his shirt off was maddening, nearly drowning out the pain.
She unpeeled the bandage from his chest, wincing, teeth bared, at the blood still steadily seeping from the wound.
“This is going to hurt,” she said, grabbing the needle she’d prepped without his realizing and Giles didn’t like how time kept lapsing on him. “I don’t have anything to numb it with.”
“I’ll survive,” he said, patting the knee that peeped from her slightly parted robe.
He left his hand there as his world narrowed down to pain; sharp bursts of it every time the needle plunged into his skin.
“There,” Joyce said and his eyes snapped open. Her fingers shook as she applied the bandage. “We’re done. It’s okay.”
He peeled his fingers from her knee, scowling when he saw the red marks. Joyce was a lady and ladies shouldn’t wear bruises.
“Thank you for coming to my aid,” he said, gently taking her hand.
Her fingers clenched around his as her other hand came up to rest along the curve of his cheek. “You’re welcome.”
He smiled, nuzzling the palm of her hand. “So if I asked to stay the night, would you take that the wrong way?”
The corners of her eyes crinkled as she said, “No. Especially since I’m pretty sure you can’t even get up.”
“I believe that would require a bit more energy than I possess at the moment, yes,” he agreed.
“I’ll just get you some blankets and a pillow,” she said, patting his cheek and standing.
She stopped, turned, then leaned in and pressed a firm but gentle kiss to his lips.
She pulled away and murmured, “Next time, bring flowers and have reservations.”
Giles chuckled softly as she walked away, allowing his body to slowly topple sideways until he rested against the cushions. He toed off his shoes and swung his feet up onto the couch with him. Then reality faded into a dream of silken skin, soft lips, and warm, caring hands.