“Don't set him down there!” Giles snapped.
As Xander turned to the watcher, Spike felt his arm slip down to hover above the coffee table. It wasn't worth the effort to pull it back up, so he left it where it dangled.
“Where did you have in mind?” Xander sounded a mite snippy, and inwardly Spike cheered him on; the rest of him was far too exhausted.
“I think the bathtub would be...”
“Not playin' your bath-time bondage games, wanker.” Spike warned Giles, fighting his head's inclination to wobble as he struggled to keep the Watcher in focus.
“Why I-I-I... Whatever are you talking about?” Giles blustered.
Spike smirked at him. Rupert feigned innocence rather well for a man whose apartment came equipped with its own set of iron manacles.
Xander backed up a step in alarm. “You're not chaining Spike in the bathtub.” Herc's outrage on his behalf touched Spike and he decided the boy was worth the effort after all. He pulled his hand up and shakily patted Xander on the chest, leaving a smeared bloody palm print behind.
Kendra's giggle broke the shocked silence that declaration had produced and the Watcher shook his head as if to clear it.
“I can't imagine why you would even think such a thing,” he protested stuffily. “I-I merely meant that the bathroom is perhaps more suitable than the sofa for someone in his condition. He's going to need extensive first aide.”
“I'll get the kit out.” Kendra stepped around her Watcher and headed down the hall to the W.C.
“Don't forget the suture kit,” Giles called after her.
“Okay, the bathroom works,” Xander reluctantly agreed, “as long as you don't try anything kinky. We could use the running water.”
Xander started down the hall, and Spike moaned as Herc adjusted his grip on Spike's body.
“Sorry. Despite my new Super-Strongman strength, Spike, you still weigh a ton. It's a good thing I'm setting you down soon, 'cause I'm about to drop you on your head, and wouldn't that spoil the Super-Suave hero look I'm grooming.”
“Don't worry, Herc, your secret's safe with me.”
Xander had to turn sideways to get them both into the bathroom, and in the end, the tub did turn out the best place. The other options were the loo or the floor, so even Spike voted for the tub. He wasn't sure he could stay vertical sitting on the toilet seat.
He murmured “Home, Sweet Tub,” as Xander set him down. Both Kendra and Giles stared at him curiously, but he had no energy to explain.
Herc, on the other hand, chuckled. “Fond memories?”
“Not bloody likely, mate. Promised myself I'd never see this view again, yet here I am.”
“Don't worry, we'll have you out in no time.” Herc paused as he looked Spike over. “God, Spike. You look like shit.”
He laughed, despite the pain it prompted in his face. “Thanks so much. I feel like an old, dilapidated house waiting for a strong wind.”
“Well, I must admit, you look even worse.” Giles replied from the sink where he was fussing with the water, and Spike managed to raise the proper two fingers in a salute.
Rupert brought over the suture kit, and a bucket of warm water with several flannels floating in it. He knelt behind Spike's head. “This is likely to hurt.”
Spike tried to wave him off. “Just get me some blood. That'll fix me right up.”
“Well, it may be a while before Xander is able to procure that for you. In the meantime, you'll continue to lose blood from this wound if I don't do something with it.”
“I'll get the blood.” Kendra volunteered.
Giles' head popped up, and he spoke with disapproval. “You'll do no such thing.”
“Why not?” Xander asked. “I can't promise anything, but there's a good chance my supplier from home'll be available in this universe. He's totally human. He works nights at the hospital, and I have his number in my wallet.”
“All the more reason for you to go,” Giles argued. “If you know the man already...”
“Yeah, but I went to high school with him. He thinks I'm dead here.”
“Who is it?” The slayer's question was unexpected.
“Josh Norris. I've known him since first grade.”
“Short and skinny, with glasses? Played French horn in the band?”
Xander was surprised. “How did you... Oh, yeah. You were there, weren't you? I keep forgetting that.”
“I remember him.” She smiled. “When we handed out weapons, he asked for a light saber.”
“That's him.” Xander laughed. “I finally convinced him to settle for a sword and a stake.”
The Slayer nodded. “He was in my section, defending the rear. He was very proud to have dusted two vamps on his own. I'll find him if he's there.”
“I'm not sure I approve of a Slayer procuring blood for a vampire...” Giles said stiffly.
“Or a Watcher caring for his wounds?” Kendra interrupted.
The cloth currently cleaning blood off the back of Spike's head paused, and if Spike had been breathing, he would have held his breath. The lady had balls. Reminded Spike of that Blaxploitation star from the seventies; Dru had been obsessed with turning Pam Grier for years after that. Kendra looked defiant, a look he'd only seen on her once before when she'd insisted they give Xander the benefit of the doubt and listen to his story.
“He received these wounds saving Xander's life, Giles,” she said softly. “He deserves our help.”
He heard the flannel splash into the bucket, and Spike expected retaliation on the Watcher's part. He was quite surprised when he heard a set of keys jangling. “I suppose you'll be wanting to borrow the car?”
Kendra's face split into a wide grin as she caught the thrown keys. “I'll be back soon.”
She hesitated at the bathroom door, and Giles answered her unspoken question. “I'd say no less than six bags. Double that if you can; they'll freeze if he doesn't need them. And yes, you may use the card, but get cash at an ATM first, I'm fairly certain he won't accept Mastercard.”
Xander smiled at Giles gratefully, and followed the Slayer into the front room, filling her in on where she'd most likely find the bloke and how much dosh to take. Giles didn't speak, but he resumed his ministrations to Spike's head. Spike held his peace as well. If the Watcher was willing to pay for his blood, who was he to protest? Besides, he was too knackered for a fight.
By the time Rupert had finished with Spike's head and the slice across his stomach that had also needed stitches, Xander had cleaned and patched up most of his other wounds. The hardest part for Herc had been snapping two fingers on Spike's left hand back into place, but he'd persevered. They'd had to cut Spike's shirt off in order to get to his banged up ribs and the gouges Puffy Spike's nails had left on his back, and the cut across his lower stomach had bled rather heavily all over his jeans.
Rupert reluctantly admitted he might have something Spike could use as replacement clothing. Spike made sure to announce that he'd rather go naked than wear tweed as the Watcher left in search of suitable apparel.
Xander was quiet as he finished cleaning up the blood Spike seemed to be covered with. Spike couldn't help much, his hands were too shaky, and he was afraid he'd be fit for nothing until Foxy Brown got back with the blood. It was so easy to just close his eyes and feel the warm cloth move across his body. Xander's flannel moved carefully over the bloody scratch on his shoulder, then down across his nipple, making him shiver with unexpected pleasure.
Herc gasped and Spike opened his eyes to Xander's flushed face. His eyes roamed over Spike's bare chest, and Spike took a deep breath, scenting the air and almost reeling from the strong hit of male pheromones. Well, well. What have we here?
Xander's hand jerked back from Spike's body, and he dropped the flannel into the bucket on the floor. He looked around himself, as if not certain how he got there, and Spike realized exactly how flustered the boy was. For some strange reason he was reluctant to poke fun at Herc for getting a woody while touching Spike's body. Well it was quite an amazing body, he'd been told. He guessed he couldn't blame Xander for finding it attractive, now could he?
Spike shoved the fact that he had enjoyed the touch far more than he would have expected into the far back of his mind. This was neither the time nor the place. Besides, he didn't get attached to humans, and wasn't going to make an exception for this one. Even if he was an appealing mix of vulnerability and bold strength, with his dark eyes and lovely shaggy hair. Spike shook his head; he'd feel better once he'd fed, and these ridiculous little fantasies of his would fade.
He heard the front door open and Xander took a deep breath, standing up awkwardly. He cleared his throat. “That must be Kendra. I'll go see if she found Josh.” He scurried away, looking more relieved than he had a right to. Spike laughed at his own about face. Did he want the boy attracted to him, or not?
The blood was fresh, and Spike smiled as he felt his bones knitting, the tissue repairing itself and restoring him to his natural vigor. Xander was hovering close, biting his lip and obviously worrying himself sick like a huge nancy boy. After the sixth bag, Spike felt well enough to climb stiffly out of the tub. He sat on the edge, grinning at the relief he saw in Xander's eyes.
“I'm fine now, Herc. You can stop worrying about me, now.” It wasn't quite true, he'd need to finish off those bags before the night was out, but he was well enough to fake it. He plucked at the ruins of his jeans. “Wonder if the Watcher will let me shower before he kicks us out?”
“Good idea. I'll be working on that generator tomorrow, but I can't guarantee that we'll have hot water for another day or two. Giles said he found clothes for you. Which is of the good. I'd hate to give everyone a free show.”
Spike shrugged. “I don't know why not. Might do 'em good.”
Xander sat down next to Spike and picked at the hem of his shirt. “I was so worried, Spike. I'm so sorry I couldn't help you out there.” He paused, taking a deep breath. “You almost dusted, and I was helpless. I'm so sorry.”
“It's not your fault, you know,” Spike frowned. “I managed to get into that position all by myself. You're not responsible for me.”
Xander stood up, and started to pace the small room. “I kind of am. It's my fault we ended up here. If it weren't for me, you'd be back at your crypt watching Passions and drinking Jack Daniels. Not stuck here fighting for me.”
“I'm not fighting for you, Herc. I have my own issues in this world. I owe this bastard, and I'm going to pay him back.”
“He had no right to hurt you like that,” Herc said indignantly.
Spike looked up in surprise. Xander's face was flushed and his eyes were wild and full of rage.
“He had no right,” Herc repeated harshly. “And I couldn't protect you, Spike. It was my fault, and I couldn't protect you!”
Suddenly, Xander struck out, his fist smashing into the bathroom tiles as he shouted in anger. The scent of Xander's blood hit Spike, and he jumped up, pulling Xander's arm back when he would have struck the wall again.
Xander twisted around to face Spike, who was holding on to his arm tightly. He struggled for a moment, but Spike held on grimly, despite his condition. Finally Herc stopped and took a deep breath, collapsing onto the edge of the bathtub.
Spike sat down next to him. “Better, now?”
Xander shrugged sheepishly. “I'm not sure what got into me.”
“I expect it had something to do with that Plautect mojo.”
Xander nodded. “I guess you're right.”
Spike glanced down at the split skin of Xander's knuckles where the blood had run up his hand, toward his wrist.
Impulsively, he glanced up at Xander with a grin. “No sense in wasting it, right?”
Xander gasped as Spike's tongue licked up the blood on his wrist. Spike shivered. It was heady stuff, strong with the flavor of anger, passion and a heavy hit of magic that he bet was the signature of the Plautect's spell. He gently sucked on the bloody knuckles before running his tongue across them to make sure he didn't miss anything.
When he glanced up, Xander was flushed and panting, and the scent of his arousal was strong in the air.
Spike reached down to adjust himself. That had been a foolish move if he was trying to keep his distance from the boy.
Xander stood up, clearing his throat. “I think I'll just go...out there.” He turned and walked shakily out of the room.
Spike shook his head, wondering at his own stupidity. What the hell did he think he was doing?