From Nothing


by Saber ShadowKitten



"He's Spike's attendant," Giles explained, his face still painted like everyone else's from the rescue mission. "From what I understand, Jefe feeds, bathes a-and cleans up any injuries. Santiago regarded Spike as-as a, er, plaything, something to entertain his guests."

The vampire in question was sitting in the corner of the room where Buffy and Willow had placed him. The only movement he made on his own was to turn and face the wall. The Cuban attendant, Jefe, was locked up in the basement of the bookstore, in a specially-made cage just for these occasions.

"Nothing else?" Buffy asked, her gaze constantly roving to the long-haired, peroxide-blond. "Like, who did this to Spike? Or how?"

"Nothing," Giles replied. "Jefe is only a-a-a servant, if you will. He was turned specifically for the job of taking care of Spike, nothing more. The only thing additional I was able to learn from him was that ‘la estatua vivo' was with Santiago when Jefe was turned, and the attendant has been with Spike for, uh, six years."

"Six years," the Slayer gasped. "He's been like this for six years?!"

"Yes."

One by one, the group gathered in the medium-sized headquarters turned their eyes to Spike. Not a single gaze was filled with hate or disgust, only sadness and pity. Memories filled their minds of the way the peroxide-blond used to be, and it was hard for each of them to believe the vampire sitting in the corner of the room was the same vampire of their past.

"We can't leave him like this," Willow said, always the voice of compassion and reason.

"I guess it would be a mercy killing," Giles said.

"Stake through the back," Xander said. "He probably wouldn't even notice."

"We should take that jacket off him first," Cordelia interjected. "Finding Buffy's size is not easy."

"Now that's a good idea," Xander replied. "‘Hey Spike, take off the jacket before we kill you, ok?'"

"No," Buffy stated, interrupting the beginnings of a fight between the married couple. She stood and slammed her palms on the table. "No, we are not going to kill him."

"But Buffy," Willow said. "Maybe it would be for the good, you know? Like putting your dog to sleep."

"Someone did this to him, Willow," Buffy growled. "And I want to know who and how and when and why and every other one of those reporter questions."

"Where and when," Ethan supplied, coming down the stairs with a dog in his arms. The familiar accompanied Willow to the store every day, his sixth sense ferreting out any undesirables who ventured into the shop. Why the dog liked Ethan was anyone's guess, but it more than likely had to do with the tidbits of food the man snuck to Angel while working on his paintings on the second floor of the bookstore.

"Shut up, Ethan," Buffy and Giles said simultaneously.

"There's no need to be rude," Ethan sniffed. Suddenly, the tiny dog squirmed out of his arms and ran across the room, his nails scrambling on the hard floor. "Willow, that dog is really quite...I don't think I'll finish that sentence."

"Good," Willow said, glaring at the man. Her head turned when she heard Angel start whining. To her surprise, and everyone else's, the familiar was pawing at Spike's bare leg, trying to get his attention. "Angel, no. Don't do that, you'll hurt him."

Angel stopped and looked back at the group, his large, doe-eyes conveying unhappiness. He then turned and licked Spike's leg, then laid down on the floor on one of the vampire's feet, watching the group watch him.

"What's he saying, Wills?" Xander asked. "I haven't brushed up on my Dog-ese."

"Angel likes him," Willow replied. "Although he's never liked vampires before, except for Angel." She grinned. "Angel likes Angel."

"Spike must be really gone if the dog isn't even afraid of him," Cordelia said.

"I'm going to get him back," Buffy said.

"Buffy, do you think that is-is wise?" Giles asked. "The Spike we knew wouldn't think twice about killing us."

"Giles is right, Buff," Xander said.

"Xander is right, Buffy," Cordelia added.

"I'd have to agree with Ripper on this one," Ethan chimed in. "Even though I've never met the bloke."

"Willow, do you have anything to add?" Buffy asked in a steely voice.

"Um, well, this is Spike we're talking about," Willow replied. "The vampire, not your cat."

Buffy glared at each one of the others in turn. "I am going to get Spike back. No one deserves to be like he is," she growled. "If you don't like it, tough shit. Deal."

Silence filled the room for several moments. Each person had their doubts about Buffy wanted to do, but the question of how a vampire, as energetic and passionate as Spike had been, could become the still figure in the corner was something they were all curious to know.

"Do be careful, Buffy." Giles was the first to condone to Buffy's wishes. "Especially since we don't know the cause of Spike's, er, con-condition."

"Where are you going to keep him?" Willow asked.

"And what are you going to dress him in?" Cordelia inquired.

"And feed him?" Xander said.

"Is he housebroken?" Ethan couldn't help but add.

"Ethan," Buffy warned.

"I know, I'm quiet," Ethan said, crossing his arms over his chest.

"So, what's your plan, Buffy?" Xander asked.

"Um, Spanish speaking person," Buffy said, her mind whirling. "Find out from Heifer-"

"Jefe," Giles corrected.

"Yeah, Jefe," Buffy continued. "His daily routine. When does Spike get up? When does he eat? What does he do all day? That sort of thing."

"Very well," Giles replied.

"Call me when you get the information," Buffy told him, then turned to Ethan. "Ethan, do you have any black paint in your supplies upstairs?"

"Yes," Ethan said. "And I'll be happy to sell..." She gave him a murderous look. "Give it to you."

"Thanks, I'll need a brush, too," Buffy said. "Cordy, do you think you could pick up some clothes that would fit Spike tomorrow?"

"Sure," Cordelia replied, eyeing the vampire with a tailor's mind. "Anything in particular?"

"Comfy-clothes," the Slayer answered. "I don't think I'll be taking him out anywhere."

"Anything you want me to do?" Xander asked.

"Yeah, can you give us a ride back to my house?" Buffy replied. Xander nodded. "Wills, you might want to call Angel about this one."

"I'll do it as soon as I get home," Willow said.

"Ok, then," Buffy said. "I guess that's it. Unless you guys can think of anything else?"

"Sleep with a stake under your pillow," Xander replied.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Thank you for that bit of insightfulness, Xand-man. Now, come on. I have a layer of face paint still on my skin that I want to get off before I'm permanently green and black."



*****



After a small amount of trial and error, Buffy found that Spike understood the words ‘stand' and ‘follow,' and she managed to get him to Xander's car with little difficulty. Twenty minutes later, she led the vampire into the only other room set up as a bedroom in the house. "Here we are," she said, gesturing with the can of black paint. "Your new home."

Spike had stopped walking when she had stopped, and he stood slightly behind her, as still as the living statue he was nicknamed. She looked back at him and saw him staring blankly ahead, his eyes completely without life. Normally, she'd think the way he was wearing nothing but a too- small camouflage jacket was funny, but in this situation, it saddened and angered her all at once.

With a sigh, she reached back and took his larger, cool hand in her smaller, warm one and pulled him to the bed. "Um, sit?" Buffy tried the command, having run a small gambit of similar words back at the bookstore. When he sat on the edge of the bed, she smiled slightly in relief. Now she knew how to make him sit, stand and walk. **Great, he's just like a dog,** she thought, her smile turning into a scowl.

"I'm gonna go wash my face, then paint over the windows, ok?" she said to him. She stared at him a moment, wishing that he would answer. When he didn't, she sighed again and set the paint can and paintbrush down, then left the bedroom.



*****



"Hello?" Buffy said into the phone when it rang half-an-hour later.

"Buffy? It's Giles," Giles said on the other end of the line.

"Hey Giles," she replied in a tired voice. "I take it you got the low-down from Josser"

"Jefe, yes," Giles said. "The routine isn't much. Jefe f-fed Spike around sunset, then bathed him, then fed himself. He would stay out of the way until Santiago or whomever, er, finished with Spike, then clean any wounds and his duties were done until the following night."

"Sounds pretty simple," Buffy said. "What are we going to do with the Cuban?"

"Willow and I decided to put a tracker on him and release him," the Watcher replied. "Hopefully, if Santiago is still alive, Jefe will search for him."

"And we'll nail him," she said. "I'm liking that plan. Anything else?"

"No, that is everything," Giles answered.

"Ok, I'll see you tomorrow night before patrol," Buffy said. "Bye."

"Good night," Giles replied, then disconnected.

The Slayer hung up the phone, then returned to the bedroom where Spike was still sitting on the edge of the bed. "That was Giles," she told him, having decided in the shower that she should talk to him as much as possible. "He told me your routine. You won't be getting any more...what did you call them? Happy meals on legs? But the butcher shop has a pretty nice selection nowadays. Pig, cow, sheep, and a few other animals I'd rather not know about."

Opening the black paint, she stirred it slightly with the brush, then picked it up and began painting over the windows. "I'm painting these black for you. Good thing my neighbors can't see into the back yard, or they'd really wonder what was going on in here. As it is, they think I'm weird enough," she said. "I guess that's a true statement. I go in and out of the house at all hours of the night, I get big shipments from my suppliers -- which all come in crates or large, brown boxes - and I live alone in this great big house with no obvious means of supporting myself. Who knows, maybe they think I'm a drug dealer or something."

She stirred the paint a little more as she continued, "I'm not, though. A drug dealer. I have a mail-order business. Tacky, I know, but you wouldn't believe how good it is. I sell ‘fantasy' stuff -- dragons and unicorns, things like that. I even created a few of my own figurines." She chuckled. "Most of them are vampires. I did Lyle Gorch and Mr. Trick. The Master. Darla. A few others you may or may not have heard of." She looked over at him. "I even did you and Drusilla."

Spike didn't react, as she was starting to come to expect, and she went on with her one-sided conversation. "I wanted to do Angel, but he got all pissy. Said it was like pornography, only with clothes on," she said, and rolled her eyes. "I got a couple of prototypes of him in my originals case. Too bad Mr. Prude won't let me finish them."

Finished with the painting, Buffy recapped the can, then set it to the side. "That should do it. If we pull down the shades, too, there'll be no worries of you going ‘poof,'" she said, looking at him again. A sad frown formed over her features, and she walked over to stand in front of him, tilting his chin to see into his lifeless eyes. "What happened, Spike, huh? Why are you like this?"

She heard a loud noise coming from the other room and she issued a terse, "Stay here," before going to investigate. She realized how dumb it was to tell a vampire known as ‘la estatua vivo' to stay put, as she quietly crept down the hallway. Rounding the corner to the entryway, she heard the sound again and paused. It was coming from the hidden closet.

She stealthily got into position and yanked the door open, prepared to strike. Instead, she burst out laughing when she saw her cat peering up at her from inside one of her slaying bags. "Are you playing in here again?" she fake scolded him. Bending down, she dug him out of the bag and cuddled him to her, then closed the door. "I don't know how you manage to sneak in there. Is there a secret door to my secret closet?"

The cat launched himself out of her arms and took off down the hallway. "Spike, where are you...Spike!" As she ran after her cat, she couldn't help but laugh at the name confusion. Now she knew how Willow felt when Angel was in town for a visit. She entered the bedroom and came to a halt at the sight before her.

Spike, the cat was standing on Spike, the vampire's lap, his paws on either shoulder, rubbing his nose against the peroxide-blond's face. She had somewhat expected her cat to take a dislike to Spike -- the feline tended to avoid anyone but her - but the loud purring emanating from the animal said distinctly otherwise.

The only thing ruining what could have been a Kodak moment was the lack of response from the vampire.




Part Four




After depositing her cat in her bedroom, Buffy returned to Spike. "Sorry about that," she said, sadly noting that the vampire hadn't moved even an inch. "My cat is...my cat. He's never done that before. Spike's not too fond of other people. That's his name, by the way. Spike. Got him from Angel as a joke," she said, drawing the shades. "He does remind me of you...well, not now, but before... Anyway, he's a good cat."

She glanced at the clock on the night stand and groaned. "Ten til four already. Looks like I won't be getting up bright and early to get my orders processed," she complained. She looked at Spike, then at the made bed, before returning to the vampire. "I guess I'd better get you to sleep. The bed's all made up. The last person to use it was my mom, when she came up for an overnight visit. Not that the sheets are dirty. I put clean ones on after she left."

Rolling her eyes at her own babble, she turned down the covers as far as she could with Spike sitting there. Then she eyed the jacket he was wearing with a frown. "I need that jacket back, Spike, so I can wash it for the next time. It's not like you're unused to going without clothes," she said, moving to unbutton the fatigue. "Cordy will be stopping by sometime tomorrow with some things for you to wear. Knowing her, when I said ‘comfy-clothes' she'll think ‘Armani.'"

The jacket was off and he was naked before her once more. Forcing herself not to be embarrassed, she gestured to the bed. "Ok, you can get under the covers," she said. When he did nothing, she started on a list of words. "Uh, go to bed? Lay down?"

Buffy was startled when he laid straight back on the bed in conjunction with her second words. "If I tell you to roll over, will you?" she asked, then paled when he did exactly that. "Oh god, Spike, no. Sit up. You're not a dog."

Spike sat up, returning to his original position on the edge of the bed. The Slayer felt her eyes fill with tears and she had to bite her lip to keep them back. "How about go to sleep?" she said after a moment. When he moved at her words, she had to push down the urge to take him in her arms and hold him. He climbed into the bed and pulled the covers up over himself, then stared blankly up at the ceiling.

"Well, um, goodnight," Buffy said in a slightly choked voice. "I'll see you tomorrow...I mean, later today." With a final, sad look at him, she turned and quickly walked out of the room, shutting off the overhead light on the way.



*****



Buffy spent a fitful few hours trying to sleep, but finally gave up around eight. Her cat bounded out of her bedroom directly for Spike's as soon as she opened the door. Following groggily, she entered the vampire's room and saw that his eyes were closed. Spike, the cat had made himself at home already on the peroxide-blond's covered stomach.

Walking over to the side of the bed, she carefully sat down. **How can I fix this, Spike?** she thought, studying the sleeping vampire. **You don't deserve to be like this, even though you are a vampire.** She refrained from reaching out to touch his face, not wanting to wake him. After a few minutes, she sighed and stood, then left the bedroom.

"Java, java, java, java, java," Buffy mumbled to herself as she made her way to the kitchen. She turned on the coffee maker, then picked up the phone and hit a speed-dial number.

"Thank you for calling Bookends, Willow speaking," Willow greeted cheerfully on the other end of the line.

"You're too happy for this early in the morning," Buffy said to her, taking a grapefruit out of the refrigerator.

"Just call me Chipper-Charlie," the redhead replied.

"How about I just call you nuts?" Buffy said.

"You can do that, too," Willow answered. "How's Spike?"

"Sleeping," Buffy replied, cutting the grapefruit in half, then cutting the meaty center into pieces. "At least, I think he's sleeping. His eyes are closed. Hey, you want to know something weird?"

"Hellmouth-weird or weird-weird?" Willow asked.

"Weird-weird," she said. "Spike is sleeping on top of Spike's stomach."

"You're right, that is weird," the hacker replied. "How did you get Spike's stomach out of him?"

"Willow," Buffy groaned. "That was pathetic."

"I know," Willow said. She paused a moment. "I called Angel."

"And?" Buffy said, feeling the familiar slight pang in her heart at the mention of the dark-haired vampire. Willow was the only one of the group that spoke to Angel on a regular basis, keeping him abreast of the events in Sunnydale. Buffy and Angel may be quasi-friends, but even talking to each other on the phone was hard on both of them.

"He thinks you're the one who's nuts, not me," the redhead answered. "But he'll come up as soon as he can to check out Spike."

"Joy," the Slayer said with little enthusiasm. She took the sugar out of the cabinet and began to sprinkle it over the grapefruit. "So, is there anything new or exciting I should know about that happened between earlier this morning and now?"

"I got a letter from Oz."

Buffy stopped mid-bite on the first piece of the fruit. "What's it say?"

"Only that he'll be home next week after his debriefing," Willow said casually. Then she squealed in delight. "Oz is coming home!"

"About time," Buffy said, a large smile on her face, her heart lifting for her best friend. "He's been on this last assignment for how long now?"

"Thirty-nine days, twelve hours and fourteen minutes," Willow replied promptly.

Buffy laughed. "Sounds like you miss him."

"Oh yeah," she said. "I can't wait to see him. And hug him. And kiss him. And do other things to him that I can't say when I'm at work."

Oz Rosenberg, the only male the group had ever heard of who took the last name of the wife, was a counterintelligence officer with the CIA. Recruited specifically because of his musical skills, his constant cover was as a bass player for whatever band the intelligence community sent overseas to perform.

Gone for most of the year, Willow and Oz rarely got to see each other, but neither minded. Willow was constantly busy with her studies to become a Watcher, helping with slaying, and with the bookstore. Oz, at the same time, got to do what he loved -- play the guitar - while doing something he thought was worthwhile. It was an unconventional marriage, but what else could be expected between a witch and a werewolf.

"Congratulations, Will," Buffy said. "Don't forget to warn Giles, so he doesn't think something happened to you when you don't show up for work."

"He already knows," Willow replied. "It was kinda hard to hide my giddiness when I came in. Ethan even smiled once at me before he went back to complaining about the black paint."

"Ethan's up already?" Buffy asked, resuming her breakfast. "It's only eight."

"He said he had a breakfast date," she said. "Although he used some cruder words a lady doesn't repeat."

"You're not a lady," the Slayer teased.

"Look who's talking," Willow said. "Oops, customer. Gotta go. Bye."

"Bye, Wills," Buffy said, then hung up the phone. She finished her breakfast in a happy silence, glad for her best friend. When she finished, she tossed the grapefruit rinds, put her knife and spoon in the dishwasher, then went to throw some clothes on and get to work.

Several hours later, the Slayer was satisfied with her progress on the orders and had remembered to call her gardening service about the flowers. She was on her way to get more coffee when the doorbell rang. Knowing it had to be one of her friends, because only the small group had the access code for the front gate, she set down her mug on the hallway table and answered it. "Hey Cordy," she greeted.

"Hi Buffy," Cordelia replied, several shopping bags in hand. "I have a few more in the trunk."

"What, did you buy out the entire store?" Buffy asked as the brunette set her parcels down, then followed her outside.

"No, but I wasn't sure how long Spike would be with you," Cordelia said. "Besides, I like to shop."

"Understatement, Cord," Buffy replied, taking a few more bags from the trunk, which she had to juggle in order to reopen the gate. "We'll leave these in the hallway. I'll put them away later, after Spike wakes up."

"Has he said anything yet?" she asked.

"Not a peep," Buffy answered, taking her mug and leading the brunette Mrs. Chase-Harris into the kitchen. "Get this, Spike likes him."

"Who?" Cordelia said, puzzled.

"The cat," she replied.

"That beast likes a vampire, why am I not surprised?" Cordelia said, accepting the cup of coffee Buffy proffered.

"Spike is not a beast," Buffy said.

"Which one are we talking about?" the brunette asked with an arch of her perfect brow.

Buffy rolled her eyes. "Maybe I'll rename the cat," she said, taking a sip of her coffee. "Oh hey, Oz is coming home next week sometime."

"Bet Willow is annoyingly excited," Cordelia said.

"She made Ethan smile."

Cordelia shuddered. "That's spooky. Before I forget, Xander won't be at the debriefing of last nights mission tonight. He has a staff meeting."

"Xander in a staff meeting as a respectable member of the faculty at Sunnydale High," Buffy said. "I think that's the strangest thing the Hellmouth could ever come up with."

"Xander was always unique," Cordelia shrugged. "He joins the marines to become a librarian. His favorite food is Cheesy Chips."

"He married you," the Slayer added with a grin.



*****



"I got some dinner for you," Buffy said later that night, as she held out a container of pig's blood from the butcher. She had returned from running errands to find Spike awake and sitting on the edge of the bed, his head down, his long, untethered hair covering his face. "Here."

She tried to give him the Styrofoam container, but he didn't move to take it. Taking off the lid, she tried a second time by holding it under his face. "Spike, time to eat," she conned. Brushing his hair back over his shoulders, she could see that his ridges had formed because of the smell of the blood, but he made no move to take the container from her.

Buffy withdrew the container, then tilted his head up with her other hand. She put the edge of the container to his lips and slowly raised it until the blood started dripping down the sides of his mouth. "Come on, Spike, feed," she urged. Whether the word was conditioned into him, or the blood on his lips enticed his bloodlust, he opened his mouth and began to drink as she lifted the container higher.

"Now I know why you get a bath next," she said, wrinkling her nose at the red liquid that had run down his chin and along his throat. She was glad she hadn't bothered to try and dress him before he ate. When the container was empty, she capped it and set it on the night stand, catching sight of the clock. "We're going to have to hurry. I need to go on patrol in an hour and I still need to eat, too."

She told him to stand and follow, to which he complied, and she led him to the master bathroom. "So, did you take a bath or a shower?" Buffy asked, as she turned on the tap water in the large, jacuzzi tub. "I'd say bath, because I doubt good old Jeff would want to get in the shower with you."

As the tub filled, she rooted around in the walk-in linen closet for a towel, spare toothbrush and an unused, large tooth comb. "After you're clean, we can deck you out in the things Cordelia bought for you. Well, what she bought using the Slayerette petty cash fund. Did you know we've gone all government-like? I guess with a spook, an ex-Marine and Willow on the team, we were bound to go pro. I don't think you've ever met Oz -- he's the spook. CIA. He'll be home next week, so I'll have to introduce you to him."

Buffy set the things in her hands down, then returned to the closet to get a washcloth. "Anyway, tonight after patrol I'm heading over to HQ for the mission debriefing. Sounds pretty fancy, huh? Too bad it's nothing but a lot of work. Ever since Willow got married to a G-man, we've made records of our records. She's really gung-ho about making sure our work is written down in great detail for future use," she said, laying the washcloth on the edge of the tub.

"If you would've come to Sunnydale with Drusilla now instead of years ago, you would've been dusted really quickly," Buffy told him. "We tend to take out powerful master vampires in one big mission, instead of dealing with them one-on-one. And yes, that was a compliment to you, but try not to get a swelled head."

She double-checked the water temperature, shut off the tap, then took his arm and led him to the edge of the raised tub. "Hmm, how do I get you in here?" she asked herself, trying to think of the logical word. She briefly wondered why all the commands so far had been in English, rather than Spanish. "Get in the bath?" He stepped over the edge and sat in the water, the ends of his hair floating on the surface. "I'm getting better at guessing these things."

She dunked the washcloth in the water, then reached over and grabbed the soap, lathering the rag up. "I'm confused...big surprise there," she continued. "Why is it that you respond to certain words, but not others? What's that experiment with the bell and drooling -- Potsie's dog? Did something happen to erase the annoying vampire we all know and hate, and you got trained? Blech. I don't like the sound of that."

Gently, Buffy began washing the dried blood off of Spike's face. She avoided looking into his dull eyes, instead concentrating on her one-sided conversation. "Maybe Angel can shed some light on it when he comes up. Willow called him last night. We don't...we're not...Angel and I...blah, blah, blah. You probably know what I mean. You always had a knack for seeing what other people couldn't see."

She lifted up each arm, moving down both limbs with the soapy rag. "And you were right about that friends speech you gave that one time in that shop. I still remember that clearly, ‘cuz what you said really sucked, but it was true. Angel and I aren't friends, not really. More like strained divorcees. It blows," she said.

"Enough talk about my ex-honey. Too depressing. Plus, it's kinda odd to be talking about one man when I'm giving a bath to another one," Buffy commented. She wrapped the soap in the washcloth, then continued bathing him beneath the surface of the water. "And don't you go getting any ideas. This is a bath, nothing more. Even if I do think you have a great body, understand?"

Buffy was silent for several moments, involved in washing him. She eventually set soap aside and rinsed out the rag, then grabbed a plastic pitcher which she used to wash her own hair in the tub. With one hand, she pulled slightly on his shoulder until he was sitting upright, then tilted his head back, while she dunked the pitcher into the water with her other hand. "You know, I've never had my hair washed by anyone before," she said, carefully pouring the water over his long, peroxide locks. "Not in a haircut place, I mean. I've heard it feels really good."

She set the pitcher down and gently straightened his head. Taking the shampoo, she squirted a large amount in her hand, then added a splash of water before starting on his hair. "I like your hair, by the way. Hefty must have had a challenge keeping it bleached. I can't believe that you've let it grow so long, it's almost down to your waist. You've got that whole hippie-biker thing going," she said.

Buffy picked up the pitcher, tilted his head back again, and began rinsing out the soap. "I'll try not to get the soap in your eyes," she told him. "Although I don't think you'd notice. Your eyes look so dead, almost as if there was nothing inside you. Just like a living statue."

Sighing, she finished rinsing his hair, then hit the drain as she told him to stand. Grabbing the towel, she managed to prompt Spike out of the tub by telling him to follow, then walking away from him until he stepped out. She quickly dried him off, noting that he did have a terrific body, all smooth, lean planes and muscles.

After squeezing the excess water out of his hair, she draped the wet towel over a bar, then got him to sit on the toilet seat. No amount of words she could come up with managed to get him to brush his teeth, so she had to do it for him. It was an experience that was both yucky and sad. "Follow, Spike," she said after she was done. She led him back to his bedroom and told him to sit, then climbed behind him and began to brush his hair.

"Your hair is very soft," Buffy murmured, running the comb through it over and over again. "I'm surprised. I thought with all the bleaching, it'd be brittle. Maybe it's a vamp thing." She started to giggle. "Can you imagine? ‘Why do you want to become a vampire?' ‘Because they have great hair.'"

Forgetting all about the time, she continued combing his hair until it was dry. She hoped it was as relaxing for him as it had been for her. Once done, she moved off the bed, setting the comb down on the slowly-getting-crowded night stand, and opened the drawer. Earlier she had unpacked the clothes from Cordelia while he was still asleep, and had found that the ex-cheerleader had purchased several ties for men's hair.

Buffy took out a simple black one, then pulled his hair back with the tie at the nape of Spike's neck. Her cat, who had been hanging around the bedroom, decided to try and fit into the small drawer, while the Slayer moved to the dresser to pull out some clothes.

"I can't believe Cordy got you colored briefs," she commented, taking out a pair of navy blue ones. "At least she didn't get you any thongs, thank god for that." She slid them over his feet, then had him stand so she could pull them up. "Xander read off the vampire database that you liked to run around naked. Well, in my house, clothing is a rule. Too distracting otherwise."

She dressed him in a pair of lightweight khaki's, then struggled to get a t-shirt onto the vampire. His not moving wasn't any help to her. Finally, she re-fixed his hair and stepped back to look at him. "Much clothier. She got socks, but no shoes because she couldn't tell your size, which is really weird for Cordelia Chase-Harris. Maybe it was because she was too busy with eyeing the rest of your body. I know that both me and Wills always wondered what was hidden under that duster."

Buffy glanced at the clock and shook her head when she saw the time, but continued speaking. "What happened to that coat, anyway? It looked like you had it for a long time and never took it off. Maybe it's back at Santiago's place. I'll find out if we can do a tear-down, see if I can find it for you."

She took her cat out of the night stand drawer, then shut it. "I gotta get going. Patrol," she said. "Um, do you want to watch tv or listen to the radio? Probably not. I guess I'll just leave you here to your own devices with Spike." She set the feline on the bed, and he immediately climbed into the sitting vampire's lap and began to kneed his leg. "Don't have too much fun."

Impulsively, she reached out and brushed Spike's cheek with her fingertips. Then she pressed her lips together in a frown and left the bedroom.




Continues 1