[identity profile] eee1313.livejournal.com posting in [community profile] dancing_lessons_archive
Part one of two

Episode Seven: Restructuring

by eep
On Your Side by Pete Yorn
The Good Life by Weezer
(Giles)

Shout-outs & A/N: Many, many thanks go out to all of our readers who’ve stuck around long enough to read this. I know this took much longer than it should have, and all of us appreciate knowing you’re still here. Thank you. Also, props to cousinjean -- as always. What would I do without your guidance and expertise? Thanks to the beta readers on this. And finally, many thanks to adjrun and fenwic for plotting this puppy with me.


*

“Where’s Spike?”

Buffy closed her eyes and winced. She hadn’t expected her sister to ask for him first thing in the morning. “He’s in bed.”

“Why?” Dawn hoisted herself off her bed and into the waiting wheelchair. “He’s always up on my PT mornings.”

Buffy busied herself around Dawn’s room, getting her robe from the closet, straightening the sheets. She threw open the shades and sunlight hit her squarely in the face, sending her hands flying up to shield her eyes.

“Okay,” Dawn said, sitting stock-still in the chair. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing.” Buffy strode across the room and reached for the handles of the wheelchair. Dawn’s hand grabbed Buffy’s wrist.

“One, I can get to the bathroom myself. Two, I heard Willow, Faith, and Lydia downstairs really early this morning. My painkillers don’t knock me out all night,” Dawn added off Buffy’s surprised look. “And three, you look like crap. Now what’s. going. on.”

“There was some trouble last night --”

“Is everyone okay?”

Buffy looked away. A night of tracking down her boyfriend and beating up his kidnapper left her worn out. A morning spent nursing Spike’s wounds left her exhausted. “Spike. . . ” she began.

Dawn wrenched one wheel of her chair, spinning around and launching herself out the door. “What happened?” she called over her shoulder. “Is he okay?”

Buffy started after Dawn as the girl rolled past the bathroom and toward the other bedroom. “Dawn, wait!” Buffy wedged herself between the wall and the wheelchair, hoping to block her sister’s way. Dawn yanked the chair to the right and pushed at the wheels, lurching another foot closer. Buffy squeezed past her again, scraping her shin on a wheel in the process, and planted herself against the door. “Don’t go in there.”

“Why? Is Spike naked?”

“No.”

“Is there gross sex stuff around?”

Buffy crinkled her nose. “Ew, no. What are we, perverts?”

Dawn shrugged. “I dunno.” Her eyes got wide and she wrinkled her nose back. “And I don’t want to know.”

Buffy folded her arms.

“So why can’t I see Spike? What happened to him?”

“Dawn, it was a long night. I'm tired. Can we just talk about this somewhere else so we don't wake Spike up?”

Their eyes met. Dawn held Buffy’s gaze for a few long moments, then lowered her eyes. She reached down to the wheels and slowly turned them, rotating herself back towards the bathroom. “Fine.”

Buffy sighed and stepped away from the door.

Dawn stopped pushing on the wheels and looked up at her sister. “You know, Spike is my family, too. If something’s going on with him, I should know about it.” Dawn said, jutting out her chin. “You don’t need to protect me from everything.”

"I'm not trying to protect you, Dawnie. I just wanted to prepare you,” Buffy said softly. “He looks really bad. You're hardly gonna recognize him."

Dawn’s forehead creased. “How bad?”

“Really bad,” Buffy said, frowning. “But he’ll be okay in a couple of days, I promise.” Buffy smiled wanly, then quietly opened the door.

Dawn craned her head to look inside the room, and all the color drained from her face. "Spike," she whispered, her eyes filling with tears.

Buffy squeezed Dawn’s shoulder as they entered the room. The shades were drawn, and dark blankets hung from the curtain rods, blocking out any chance for even a sliver of sunlight to enter the room. Muffled light filtered in through the blankets, casting the room in a hazy reddish glow.

Spike lay on the bed, naked save for a pair of Invader Zim boxer shorts, his head cradled between two pillows. Another pillow propped up his left ankle. Nickel-sized punctures dotted his thighs, either from crossbow bolts or a really big ice pick. As Dawn moved closer to him, she noticed a pattern of burns on his chest, splattered across him like acid, or

“Holy water,” Dawn whispered, her voice rising in disbelief.

The worst part was his face. Both lips were split open, and a welt formed on his left cheek under the bone. A huge lumped mutated his forehead, disfiguring his features so that he almost looked like he was in game face. One eye socket already turned a harsh shade of purple. The other side of his face sickened her. A cross had been held against his skin, burning its shape into him from eyebrow to cheekbone, across the bridge of his nose and onto his eye. The criss-crossing trench was already scabbed black, but his eye had crusted shut with God knows what kind of goo.

Tears streamed down Dawn’s face. She looked to the nightstand where piles of sterile gauze pads—now sticky with pus and blood—lay heaped in a metal mixing bowl. All sorts of medications stood at the ready.

“Who did this to him?”

“He’s taken care of, Dawn. But Spike’s fine. He’ll be fine.”

“Who?!” Her voice rose and Buffy placed a hand on Dawn’s shoulder to calm her.

“Someone wanting revenge. For Spike’s past.”

Dawn looked from her sister to the vampire she loved. He was her friend, her big brother, her surrogate father, her coach. She couldn’t stand that someone could hate him so much. “I wish I was out of this chair so I could kick the snot out of whoever did this,” she muttered through clenched teeth.

A hand touched hers, just two fingers grazing her knuckles. “Bit.”

Dawn looked at Spike. His voice matched his face, ragged and beaten. But one eye was open.

Buffy knelt at the bedside instantly. “You need anything?”

He licked his bottom lip. “Blood?”

“On it.” She raced for the door.

Dawn heard her sister leave but didn’t turn from Spike to watch her go. He held her gaze.

“Looks like we’re both invalids, huh?” he joked.

Dawn couldn’t smile. “Why’d he do it? You don’t hurt people anymore.”

“Anymore,” he reminded her.

She stared at his face, past the scabs and bumps to his eyes. Even swollen and crusty, they were good eyes. He was a good person. How could someone not see that in him? “I hope he suffers for what he’s done to you.”

Spike shook his head slightly at her. “Dawn, listen to me,” he began, fixing his gaze on her. The blood vessels in his good eye had burst, leaving his iris a spot of blue on a red and purple canvas. “Sometimes people do things because they believe they’re right.”

“What, like this?” she interrupted. “How could anyone think beating you up is right?”

“Bloke who did this had been looking for me. I did some terrible things to someone he loved years ago,” Spike said, pausing to lick his split lips.

“But that’s in the past. You’re good now.”

“Now, yes. But back then I wasn’t,” Spike said softly.

Dawn nodded and looked at her lap. “I just don’t like you being hurt.” Tears slipped from her eyes and rolled down her cheeks, meeting under her chin.

Spike rubbed her knuckles with his fingers and did his best to smile.

“Here you go,” Buffy said, bustling into the room with a travel cup, complete with bendy straw. “Just call me Nurse Buffy.”

Spike lifted his head to better access to the straw, and Buffy tilted the cup with one hand as she smoothed down his curly hair with the other. “Dawn, why don’t you head into the bathroom? I’ll be there in a sec to help you out.”

Dawn’s gaze lingered on Spike. “Okay,” she finally said, turning her chair to exit.

“Bit?”

Dawn twisted to look back at Spike.

“Good luck today with Boy-o.”

She grinned at him for the first time that morning and then made her exit. They were going to be all right, all three of them. She just knew it.

***

“We’re home!” Dawn shouted as the front door opened.

“How’d therapy go?” Willow called from the kitchen.

“Come take a look!” Dawn hollered back.

Willow rounded the corner of the dining room and squealed. Dawn stood in the doorway, no chair, no cast. Behind her, Hank beamed at his youngest daughter, her backpack slung over one shoulder.

“Oh my gosh!” Willow raced over to grab Dawn in a hug.

“Careful of her walker,” Hank said quickly.

Willow grinned at him over Dawn’s shoulder. “This is great!”

“Tell me about it,” Hank said with a smile. “Everyone at the doctor’s office kept saying she’s their miracle patient.”

“I recovered faster than anyone they’ve seen in years,” Dawn said, inching toward the living room with her walker.

“Buffy!” Willow called up the stairs. “Get down here, you’ve got to see your sister!”

Footsteps could be heard shuffling above their heads as Hank took a seat on the couch. “We went out for an ice cream to celebrate,” he said.

“And he even let me listen to my music in the car,” Dawn added.

“Wow,” Willow said. “A whole ten minutes of O-Town? You’re a brave man.”

“Hey!” Dawn pouted. “I don’t listen to that kind of stuff anymore. O-Town sucks.”

“Although I can’t say that Box Car Racer is much better,” Hank said, rubbing his temples. “Thank God the Dairy Queen is only a few blocks from the doctor’s office.”

Buffy bounded down the stairs. “What’s going on -- Dawn! Look at you!”

Dawn stood in the middle of the room, her weight supported by her walker. “Ta da!”

Buffy hugged her sister over the walker. “I’m so proud of you.”

“Thanks.”

Buffy smiled from ear to ear while Dawn settled into a chair. “This is great. This is so, so great. Wait till Spike sees you up and walking on your own.”

“Where is Spike?” Hank asked. “Why couldn’t he take Dawn to PT today? Not that I minded taking you, Sweetie,” he added quickly.

Dawn shrugged at him in response and folded up the walker.

“Um, he’s kind of immobile right now,” Buffy said, wrinkling her nose as she talked. “I’m staying home to take care of him.”

Hank’s eyes narrowed a little. “What’s wrong?” he asked.

Buffy didn’t miss a beat. “Motorcycle mishap. Wiped out. Twisted his ankle pretty badly.”

Willow raised an eyebrow at Buffy, then at Dawn. Dawn matched her expression.

Hank shifted on the sofa. “I don’t like him having that thing.” He shook his head. “It’s not safe. I don’t want either of you girls getting on that bike with him. And especially not without a helmet.”

Buffy put her hands on her hips. “Dad, Spike’s been around since they invented motorcycles. I think he’s had more than enough practice on them. Besides, he’d never do anything stupid if either of us were with him.”

“I don’t care. I don’t want you on that deathtrap.”

She blew out an impatient breath. “You can trust him, okay? Geez.”

Their eyes locked on one another’s for a minute. Dawn and Willow looked back and forth between them waiting for one to give in. Hank broke first.

“Fine. Just tell him to be more careful from now on.”

“I will.” Buffy’s voice was like ice.

“You do have helmets, right?” His words sounded more like an order than a question.

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Want me to get them from the garage for you?”

He sighed and held up his hands in surrender. “No.” His voice softened. “I’m sorry, Buffy. I just don’t want you or Dawn hurt.”

“We’ll be fine, Dad.”

He nodded and stood up. “Listen, I’ve got to get going. Work to do.” He crossed the room and set Dawn’s backpack at her feet.

“Is my CD in here?” she asked, gesturing to the bag as he kissed the top of her head.

“Yeah, it’s there. Trust me, I’m not keeping that music for myself.”

She smirked and stuck her tongue out at him.

He turned to his other daughter. “Buffy?”

She gave him a hug. “Thanks for taking over today, Dad. We really appreciate it.”

“Glad to do it.”

Willow opened the front door for him. “Good seeing you again, Mr. Summers.”

He nodded. “You too, Willow,” he said as he left.

She closed the door behind him and turned to Buffy. “What was that all about?”

“What?”

“’Motorcycle accident?’”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Oh, come on, Willow. You think I can tell my dad what really happened?”

“Well, why not?” Dawn asked.

“Come on, Dawnie,” Buffy sighed. “You saw how he reacted to the thought of Spike wiping out on the bike. How would he have dealt with the idea of one of Spike’s enemies coming back for revenge? Dad would have gone ballistic.”

“Good point.”

“Besides,” Buffy said, turning to Willow. “Just because my dad’s back and doing the Mike Brady routine doesn’t mean that he’s okay with all of this. He doesn’t need to know everything. I mean, how do you think he’d react if he found out Dawn and I are living in a house with a vampire, a witch, and a werewolf?”

Willow smirked. “The look on his face would be priceless, you’ve got to admit.”

“So that’s that. To keep Dad happy, we’re keeping him on a need to know basis. Besides, ignorance is bliss.” Buffy turned to Dawn. “So, how’d it go?”

Dawn pointed at her legs. “No cast, no stopping me now! Except we never did make it to Disneyland. . .”

“Sorry, Dawn,” Willow said. “I guess next time you go you’ll actually have to wait in line.”

“Darn it. That was the one good thing about this,” Dawn joked.

“Only one?” Willow kidded, sending Dawn into a fierce blush.

Buffy looked at her sister, eyebrow raised. “Yeah, I want to hear more about this ‘Boy-o’ of yours. Unfortunately, I have a broken boyfriend to nurse back to health. But we’ll be talking later, Dawn.”

Dawn looked sheepish. “Is that a fact or a threat?”

“Both.” Buffy warned with a fake glower before breaking into a smile. “I want to all the dirt later.” With that, Buffy bounded up the stairs.

“So?” Willow asked. “What happened with the pretty boy?”

Dawn shook her head. “Nothing. He’s away at soccer camp this week.”

Willow’s face fell. “Oh.”

“Yeah, I know. But hey, maybe by the time he gets back I’ll be in shape enough to actually go out without a caretaker.”

“Ooooh, just you and Bryce? Alone? Nice,” Willow gushed. “So I take it you’ll be doing overtime in physical therapy?”

Dawn grinned like the Cheshire Cat. “Count on it.”

***

“Hey, down in front,” Dawn said, settling herself on the sofa.

Willow crouched lower on the floor, the top of her head level with the coffee table. “This down enough, for you, Dawn?”

She smirked. “I think I could see better if you were actually under it.”

Oz grabbed some popcorn from the bowl on the table as Willow began wedging her head and shoulders under the table. “I don’t think she’ll make it.”

“Yeah,” Xander joked. “Her head got too big over in England, what with her super-Wicca classes and all.”

“Hey!” Willow slithered out. “My head’s not that big.”

“Definitely head-sized,” Oz deadpanned as Willow flashed him a grin.

“Either way, you’re blocking my view again,” Dawn informed her.

Willow rolled her eyes sarcastically. “Whatever you say, your worship.”
As Willow propped herself on a throw pillow in front of the TV, Buffy entered with a second batch of popcorn. She perched on the arm of the sofa next to Xander. “So what’s tonight’s movie, anyway?”

“The Goonies,” Xander explained. “One of the classics of our childhood.”

Buffy cocked her head at the TV. “Isn’t that one of the Coreys?”

“Yeah, and Samwise is in here, too,” Willow added excitedly.

Buffy looked at her, confused. “Huh?”

“It’s a literary reference, Pet. We’ll rent the movie sometime.”

She pivoted on the sofa, a giant smile flashing across her face. “Spike! You’re downstairs!”

“Barely.” Spike hovered at the base of the stairs, one hand planted firmly on the banister. “It only took me two days.”

She jumped up and helped him into the living room. “I’m glad you’re feeling better.”

“You don’t look too good, man,” Oz said with a nod in Spike’s direction.

“Yeah, what’s with the eye patch?” Xander asked.

Spike, now smushed between Dawn and Xander, turned to look at him. “My eye’s still out of commission.”

“You look like a pirate,” he replied. “Arrrrr, matey! Ware’s yer booty?” Xander drawled in his best pirate voice.

“She’s right over there.” Spike grinned and pointed at Buffy.

“Oh, please,” Buffy groaned as she left for the kitchen.

“Quite a nice booty ye got thar,” Xander continued, watching Buffy retreat.

“Oi!” Spike interrupted. “Eyes to yourself, mate.”

Xander looked sheepish. “Sorry, man. Kind of funny, you talking about eyes and all, what with that patch. We’ll have to call you Captain Blood.”

“I can’t wait to heal up so I can get this bloody thing off,” Spike grumped, turning to face the TV.

“How bad is your eye?” Willow asked, her gaze never wavering from the screen.

“Well, I can’t see out of it, if that’s what you’re getting at,” Spike answered, his patience beginning to wear.

“You should see it,” Dawn began. “It’s all pus-y and gross.”

Xander shuddered. “I’ll pass.”

The corner of Spike’s mouth turned up, his humor returning. “Are you sure you don’t want to?”

Xander grimaced. “Nothing’s grosser than eye injuries.”

Dawn tapped Spike on the leg with her hand and leaned over to get in on the fun. “Oh, come on, Xander. You’re a Watcher now. Shouldn’t you be ready for anything? Even a big old searing wound, right across the eye?”

The blood began to drain from his face.

“Yeah, it’s not that bad, really,” Spike continued. “Once the wound starts to scab over, I should be almost ready to open it again. Course, my eyelid may have fused shut by then. But we should be able to get that open with some tweezers.”

“Or pliers,” Dawn supplied.

“Crowbar, maybe?” Spike offered.

Xander jumped off the couch, his pallor three shades greener than normal. “I gotta run,” he said. “Faith. Magic Box. Maybe some vomiting.” With that he sprinted for the front door and away from the jokers on the couch.

Dawn erupted into laughter and smacked Spike lightly with the back of her hand. “Crowbar?’”

Oz shook his head as Spike chuckled. “You two are sick.”

Just then the doorbell rang and Buffy bounded from the kitchen to answer it. “Hey, Giles,” she said, flinging the door open.

Giles pointed behind him as he entered. “Was that Xander I saw rushing away just now?”

Buffy stuck her head out the door for a look. “I guess so.” She shrugged at Giles.

“Well then,” Giles began. “Where are we patrolling tonight?”

“We?” Buffy asked.

“You can’t expect me to let you patrol alone. After what happened the other night with Spike, you don’t know if some of his other rivals were tipped off to his whereabouts. Someone might be looking for him, or you.”

Buffy led Giles into the dining room away from the others. “Giles, you can’t patrol with me. You’re not in any condition for it.”

Giles squared his shoulders. “I’m in perfectly fine condition.”

She gave him her best resolve face. “No, you’re not. You know what the doctors said. One more konk on the head and you’d have a permanent trip to Coma City.”

“Buffy, I’ve learned to live with that risk. I can fight quite capably without being injured. I think I proved that quite nicely a few weeks ago.”

“Well, I wasn’t here for your fight with the golem. If I had been, I can guarantee that I wouldn’t have let you fight it. I’m not going to risk your going vegetable because some demon shakes your head around like a snowglobe.”

“Now, really, that’s never happened. Give me some credit.”

“Why? I’m not giving you any credit at all as long as you’re talking crazy like this. You know what you’re not supposed to do, and patrolling is definitely one of those things.”

He placed his hands on his hips and tightened his mouth. “Buffy, I absolutely cannot let you go out alone. As your Watcher, my first duty is to ensure your safety.”

“And as a Slayer, my first duty is to keep people from being hurt. And that includes my Watcher.”

She folded her arms and they stood, glaring at each other from either side of the table.

“Fine!” Buffy finally exploded, turning on her heel and marching away.

Giles blinked a few times. “That was rather easy,” he muttered to himself.

A few seconds later Buffy marched back into the room holding a motorcycle helmet in front of her. “Here.”

Giles looked at it, puzzled. “And what am I supposed to do with that?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Wear it. You’re not going out with me unless you do.”

He sputtered in protest. “You can’t be serious.”

She raised her eyebrows. “Giles, you’re not getting another needless injury, especially one that has the potential to kill you. I’ve had enough injuries in my family lately, I don’t need you to add to it.”

It was impossible for Giles not to notice the anger rising in her voice. “If this is the only way. . . ” He reached out and snatched the black helmet from her hands, scowling at the red and orange flames painted along the sides. “I never wore a helmet when I was young,” he protested.

“Well, now’s the time to start.” Buffy marched into the hallway, leaving Giles to contemplate his new headgear. She plucked stakes off the side table and turned to face the group in her living room. “I’ll be back in a few hours, guys. Will, can you get Spike and Dawn anything if they need it?”

“On it,” Willow called over her shoulder.

Giles stood at Buffy’s side, the helmet tucked under his arm. She looked pointedly at him. “That’s not just for decoration, you know.”

He rolled his eyes. “Oh, for heaven’s sake, I’m still in the house.”

“We have to make sure it fits,” she said with a crisp nod of her head.

Giles exhaled loudly and stuffed his head into the helmet, then raised the visor and slid his glasses on inside the plastic shell.

“Look at you, Rupes!” Spike said, noticing Giles’s new bulbous head. “All you need is some leather chaps and you’re ready for the Hell’s Angels.”

“Or the Village People,” Oz offered, stifling a smile.

“Are they still around?” Dawn said, one eyebrow raised. “They’re not still around, are they?”

Spike eyed Giles up and down. “I always thought of you as the policeman. Or the sailor.”

“You’ve thought about Giles in Village People wear?” Buffy said, making a face. “Maybe you should sleep down here on the sofa tonight.”

“Very funny,” Giles admonished them all from inside his plastic shell. “Get a few knocks on the head and see how people treat you.”

Buffy smiled at him, her first real smile of affection that night. “Thank you for wearing it, Giles. Now let’s go kick a little ass.” She reached up and flicked his visor down, then headed for the door.

Giles turned after her and bumped face first into the door jamb. He took a faltering step back, flipped the visor back up, and made his way out the door. Just as the door clicked shut, the others heard a faint, but definitely exasperated, “Bloody hell.”

Profile

dancing_lessons_archive: (Default)
Dancing Lessons Archive

May 2017

S M T W T F S
 123 456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031   

Most Popular Tags

Style Credit

Expand Cut Tags

No cut tags
Page generated Sep. 22nd, 2017 10:17 pm
Powered by Dreamwidth Studios