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Bedside Manner

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 “Hey, B. It’s me.” Really? Who else would it have been? I closed my eyes and banged my forehead on the handrail. Lightly, of course. I didn’t want to wake Sleeping Beauty. Not until I found a way to explain our current…relationship.

Hell, if I waited for that, Buffy would be able to catch me – and kill me.

“Um, look, B. There’s somethin’ you gotta know. Nothin’ bad,” I hurried to tell her. I didn’t think it was, anyway. “The rest of the gang’s headed for Angel’s place in LA.” My leg started to bounce. This was way harder than I thought it would be. “And…it’s just me and you here. I ain’t stayin’ in your room or anythin’. I got my own.” In a fantastic motel that I knew rented by the hour. I’d seen more working girls scurrying out of rooms when I’d checked in than I’d seen on the streets of Boston. Not that it mattered. I hadn’t been back since.

Leaning forward, I gave in. Buffy needed to know the truth. I owed her that much, at the very least. “I’m sorry, B. I had to tell everyone you and me are together. I had to.” Great. Now I sounded like I begging Buffy not to be mad. Even if that was true (and it was) I didn’t have to sound like it. Buffy didn’t have to know I was afraid of her reaction. “They weren’t gonna let me stay,” I said a little more calmly. “So I told ‘em. Means I can sit here and talk to you like this, and I only gotta leave at night. Fuckin’ Head Bitch out there says me lovin’ you ain’t enough for her to break the rules and let me stay all night.”

For the first time since starting this conversation, I smiled. “I think it’s ‘cause she knows I wouldn’t stay in this damned chair after the lights was out. She don’t wanna find me and you in a clinch in the mornin’.”

I looked up, waiting for Buffy to react. She didn’t. Not even a twitch of her cute little nose. I relaxed a little. This whole confession thing might not be as bad as I thought. I’d even managed to say the “L” word out loud. First time ever. Giving Buffy a cocky grin, I asked, “You’re kinda quiet, B. Bet you’re thinkin’ about the two of us rollin’ around in that king-sized bed of yours, all hot and sweaty and fightin’ to see who’s gonna be on top this time.”

Buffy was pretending she didn’t care. She ignored me entirely so I pushed harder. It’s what I always did when I didn’t get a rise out her.

“There’s this supply closet down the hall. How ‘bout I pick the lock and borrow one of them uniforms? Short skirt. Tight in all the right places. You’d be all over me in a heartbeat, B. No way could you resist that, huh? All them fantasies you been hidin’ from me. Don’t know why you try, Princess. Can see ‘em in your eyes every time you look at me.” Picking up Buffy’s hand, I stroked the smooth, soft skin, marveling at the lack of calluses.

“Red still don’t have a clue. About you and me.” I raised my eyes to Buffy’s face again. God, it was killing me to wait for a reaction. I would have bet the entire fifty cents in my pocket that she’d pissed at the way I was blabbing the whole Faith love Buffy story. And Willow’s reaction? Well, I didn’t even want to think about it. “Girl’s gonna be jealous. All that hand-holding and huggin’. She’s been jonesing for you, B. Don’t let this new thing with that mini-Me fool ya’.”

A rattle in the hallway said I’d have to wrap this up. “Looks like room service’s comin. Bet you’re hungry. I know I am. All this talkin’ works up an appetite.” Still holding Buffy’s hand, I stood up and leaned over the handrail. “Don’t have to talk to get the second H runnin’. Just…got…to…” I wiggled farther over the rail as I taunted Buffy, making her anticipate the good stuff. “Kiss you, Princess.” My lips touched hers gently just as the door opened.

“I swear you time that. Every day, it’s the same thing. If I didn’t have that handrail up, you’d be in bed with that poor girl, doing Heaven knows what.” Fran clucked her tongue as she wheeled her cart around to the far side of the bed.

“Was just tellin’ B the same thing.” With a wink, I laid Buffy’s hand down and moved away. “You gonna kick me out again? It ain’t like I’ve never seen the goods before. “Sides, she won’t mind.”

Fran pointed a finger at me and then at the door. “Scoot. If your girlfriend wants to give you a free show when she’d better, that’s up to her. I guarantee I’m not doing it.”

“Ruin all my fun.” I could have said more, but I didn’t want to sound mean. Fran took good care of Buffy and me – and she didn’t have to.

“The residents call me Nurse Ratchet when they think I can’t hear.”  Fran dipped a washrag into the water pan on her cart. “I’ve got a reputation to uphold; don’t you forget it.” She wrung the excess water from the rag with a violent twist of her hands. “I checked on my way here, honey. The residents’ sleep room is empty if you want to take a nap. You won’t be doing your girlfriend any good if you’re sick when she wakes up.”

My eyes burned and I blinked a few times. When Buffy woke up. Fran sounded like that was a sure thing. Ah, B’s used to me layin’ down on the job.” And letting her down. I wasn’t going to do that this time. I changed the subject before I said more than I wanted, even to Fran. “Bet you put more of these sexy scrubs in the shower room for me, too, didn’t ya’?”

“Of course not. Nurse Ratchet, remember?” Fran smiled and started to soap up one of Buffy’s arms as I slipped into the hall. “I only did that because you stink and look like Hell. You’re scaring the rest of the nursing staff.”

“That’s part of my rep, Fran. Big, bad Dark Faith. Don’t go ruinin’ it for me, will ya’?” With a wave, I slipped out of the room. It was quiet and empty in the hallway. I took a minute to stretch and yawn before pulling my cell phone out of my pocket. I wasn’t supposed to use it in here, not that I cared. I punched in Willow’s number before heading for the shower and change of clothes Fran had line up for me.

“Hello?” Willow’s voice was faint, thanks to the crappy reception inside the hospital.

“No change, Red.” I talked fast, too tired to be chatty. “I got the hospital believin’ I’m B’s…family.” It was sort of true. Willow didn’t need to know the whole story. “I’ll hold the fort until you and Giles get the kids settled with Angel.” No matter how long that took.