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Foreign Objects/Nearly Normal

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I. Foreign Objects

The splints and bandages are coming off tomorrow. The doctor said his hands should look nearly normal.

Giles can't remember them normal. Only what Angelus made, raw semi-circles where fingernails should have been, splintered white bone-ends like toothy mouths eating through his broken skin.

He likes the bandages, cool and clean, bloodless. Prefers them. His skin should be layered white gauze, his bones metal splints. No nerves to make him scream and plead, no flesh to betray him.

His hands are Angelus's, conquered and won, ruled and destroyed by the torturer-king. Giles will never be able to trust them again.

II. Nearly Normal

Oz offers to help, but Giles can manage. Weeks of physical therapy have given him these complicated skills: turning on the tap, lighting the burner, filling the mesh ball with leaves, pouring boiling water without accident. His hands ache by the time the tea's ready.

"So you're feeling okay?" Oz asks, kindly.

Talking's the one thing Giles can't do. It breaks all his bones again, crushes him to bleeding helplessness. He stares down at his foreign, ugly hands.

Silence, and his hands are picked up, held in Oz's own. They shake, and Giles trembles, but Oz asks no more questions.