Spike looked at me with fear in his eyes. "No," he stated, backing further into the bedroom.
"Spike, it's been over two months now," I told him. "I've let it go this long, but I can't any
"Angel, please," he begged, shaking his head vehemently. "Please, don't-"
"Hey, hey," I interrupted, quickly walking towards my Childe. Spike backpedaled right into the
night-stand, sending the lamp wobbling crazily. I stopped in my tracks, holding up my hands to
show him I meant no harm.
I took a calming breath and spoke softly to my frightened boy. "You need to take a bath, Spike,
and we have to wash your clothes. I know you haven't been actually taking a shower when you
go into the bathroom." I met his scared eyes dead on. "It's time."
Spike bit his lower lip, and I could tell that he would draw blood. I approached him slowly and
put my hands on his shoulders. "I won't let anything happen to you." He dropped his head, and
I added, "I promise, my Childe."
Spike nodded after a very long moment. I could feel him trembling under my hands, which both
angered and frightened me. It was only a shower, only a change of clothing.
Why should he be terrified?
Gently, I led him into the bathroom. I had already picked out some clean clothes for him to put
on. A pair of dark grey sweats, a black, crew-neck pullover, socks and boxers were neatly piled
on the sink.
"Do you want my help?" I asked him, keeping my voice low and soothing. He reminded me of a
cornered animal, of which fact I was not happy about.
"Um, n-no," Spike replied. His arms were folded, as if he was hugging himself. "I can do it."
"Okay, I'll be in the other room," I said. I squeezed his shoulder briefly, then left the bathroom,
closing the door behind me. But I didn't walk away. I stood there, listening, waiting.
My Childe's voice was faint at first, but it grew steadily louder, making me want to rush into the
bathroom and hold him.
"I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't, I can't..."
I bit my own lower lip, wanting to scream out in rage. My beautiful, beautiful boy was hurting
and I had no real way to stop the pain. Instead I knock on the door and call his name through it.
I opened the door when he didn't answer. He had stopped speaking when I had called his name.
I found him sitting between the toilet and the wall, his knees pulled up to his chest, his forehead
resting on one knee. I shut the door behind me, then walked over and crouched down in front of
Spike raised his head and looked at me with such haunted and fear-filled eyes that I had trouble
keeping my true face in check. That rage I had felt outside of the bathroom was nothing
compared to what I was currently feeling.
"Here, let me help," I said softly, extending my hand to him, palm up. Spike took a shaky breath
and put his hand in mine. I stood and pulled him up to his feet. My arms went around him
without hesitation, holding him.
"I can't, Angel. I can't," Spike whispered brokenly. "I can't do it."
"I swear you're safe, Spike. No one will hurt you, I promise," I told him. "As your Sire, I
promise you, my Childe."
I held him for several minutes, gently rubbing my hand along his back. When he stepped back
from me, I let him go, and watched as he rubbed the back of his hand over his eyes. "Thanks,"
I nodded. "Are you ready?"
He kept his head down and took another purposeful breath, letting it out slowly. "Yeah," he
answered, grabbing the hem of his tee-shirt and yanking it up over his head.
I faced the tub and turned on the tap, letting the water heat up. "Would you like to take a bath or
shower?" I asked him, adjusting the knobs to give him a bit of privacy.
"Shower," Spike responded quickly.
I pulled up the shower stopper and pulled the curtain shut as the water started to fall from the
shower head. I turned around and saw that Spike was standing between the toilet and the wall,
unclothed and visibly shaking. I reached my hand out and he took it after staring at it warily for a
couple of seconds, as if it would bite.
I lightly tugged him towards the tub, and managed to coax him into the shower. "I'll stay right
here," I told him before he got in. And I did.
His shower was short, as I had expected, but he was fully clean after all this time. After he had
dried off, I handed him the clean clothes and waited for him to finish dressing before grabbing his
dirty clothes and opening the bathroom door. "Why don't you take a nap?" I suggested,
instinctively knowing that my boy was mentally exhausted because of the effort it took for him to
take the shower.
Spike nodded and headed right for the bed. He always slept on the same side in the same
position, with the blankets pulled up all around him. I walked over beside the bed after he had
gotten in and brushed my fingertips over his cheek. "You're okay, Spike," I said softly. "You're
going to be okay."
He closed his eyes and pressed his lips together. I bent down and brushed a kiss on his temple,
then turned off the light and headed out of the bedroom.
"Angel, you're not going anywhere tonight, are you?"
I stopped in the archway to the bedroom. "No, I'm not," I replied reassuringly, then I continued
on my way.
I had laundry to do.