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Xander stands in the doorway between the living room and the bedroom, casting a shadow across the carpet in front of him, all the way to the unmade bed. He can't sleep. He can watch Anya sleep. She's good at it, and she even manages to look like a regular girl when she does. For a fleeting moment, Xander also imagines that regular girl and him in a regular relationship.
He shifts his weight from one foot to the other, arms crossed over his white t-shirt. He scratches at his bare calf with his foot, getting antsier by the second.
Finally, a soft rasp on the door.
Xander is there in a heartbeat and swings the door inward. Half a step and he has an armful of vampire, clinging, warm and wet, he's not sure what from. And then he realizes the wounds haven't been healing at all; in fact what he can see of Spike is red and welted, bleeding, possibly infected. Figures that she-god cat-scratches wouldn't heal like your regular garden-variety
He supports the feather-weight, arms hooked under his shoulders. He turns toward the bedroom door. "ANYA!"
Seconds later she appears in her pretty nightgown, groggy and still looking like that regular girl. Wordlessly she rushes to them and they help Spike onto the couch. Xander stays by him as Anya gathers towels, bandages and ointment. He runs a hand on the scarred face, knowing it might never completely heal. There he encounters hot and clammy skin, sprinkled with cold sweat. Briefly he wonders how a creature with no body temperature can catch a fever, but then he stops wondering, or he'll have to wonder how he can do other things too, how two people who aren't really people can share the same body, or how he himself had been two different bodies, that one time. Wondering is exhausting in this neck of the woods, and the how is barely worth a second thought in the situation at hand.
Fourteen days. He's been healing for fourteen days and he looks worst off than he did immediately following his encounter with Glory. This makes Xander more nervous than he'd care to admit out loud. His vampire might be dying - and for what. Some noble cause, some harebrained idea of chivalry. But then he knows William the Bloody wouldn't have it any other way, regardless of what he meant to anyone. Selfless, under the guise of unabashed arrogance. That makes him, not just the cause (the cause, always the goddamn cause) noble, although that thought is lost on everyone but this dysfunctional little triumvirate they form, him, Spike and Anya.
Anya, Greed made flesh to some, who is more than willing to share with a demon she's never really hated. All in all a caring woman, more clever at concealing the obvious than widely believed. This girl who plays dumb and possessive like someone's life depends on it; and in a sense, it does. It's creepy, unlikely, but theirs is an arrangement that works. Their accidental public is none the wiser, and as long as they believe they're not freaks, too, in this freakish town, all is good. Within the three of them, it's even better.
The first and second a decoy for the third, and in the end, no bed is too small, and no past, in all their cliché glory, is too much to handle.
Anya settles down on the floor by the couch, and hands Xander a soaked towel, heavy with icy water. But it's not enough, it won't cover the burning flesh, the gaping lacerations, it can't hide the ugly and soothe the ache.
"We need to get him in the bathtub." They agree, and Anya runs off to the bathroom, flicking the lights on in haste. Seconds later cold water (as cold as she can make it) is pouring onto lukewarm enamel, and then Xander is there, clutching their third against his chest, leaving blood and sweat to mix and stain the pristine cotton of his shirt. Carrying him easily, like he weighs nothing, nothing at all.
He's laid down with utter care into the rising water, fully clothed, and a hand comes to cradle the back of his head so he won't hurt himself on the hard edge.
Xander runs a frantic, wet hand through dirty, tangled hair, feeling for bumps he might have missed the first time around. The last string of consciousness snaps, unnoticed, and Spike's head rolls to the side. They prop him up so that he can be comfortable, should he be awake.
For a while the only sound in the small, brightly lit room is the thundering torrent of water filling the tub all too slowly, and terrified eyes watch the level rise across the unmoving chest. The hand cradling his head plays with the short hair in his neck, fingertips twisting around damp curls. Anya's delicate chin rests on Xander's broader shoulder.
And they wait.
Xander slowly peels the soiled shirt off his damp back, balls it up absently and tosses it across the room, in the general direction of the laundry hamper. He moves to the dresser and blindly fishes out a fresh shirt from the first drawer. He puts it on, and the few seconds of muted nothingness before his mess of brown curls pops out of the neckhole is the first time in hours he's taken his eyes off the still form now lying in their bed. But his gaze seeks the sight as soon as it can again, pinning itself there resolutely.
Just one more minute. Just to make sure.
Right now he seems all skin and bones, buried in the unmade bed amidst wrinkled white sheets and beaten pillows. Once his skin radiated of a warmth worrisome but no longer alarming, they had taken him out of the tub and into their bed, where they had stripped him of his wet and bloodied clothes and wrapped him in thick cotton. And now he rests, and if you unfocused your eyes just enough, he seemed all the world like he only just had a tough week at work.
Greyish morning light is beginning to seep through cracks around the thick curtain covering the windows. Right, morning. Not that it matters. It doesn't seem to him as though they would be going anywhere anytime soon.
He hears the loud clang from outside the bedroom, and steps out into the bright living room, where all the lights are turned on, even the ceiling one, and Anya is at the kitchen sink in her underwear. He pads across the carpet to the linoleum, picking up her discarded, wet nightgown on the way and putting it down on a stool. She's dropping dirty dishes in a sinkful of soapy water, too loudly. He looks at her and sees the nerve under her jaw twitch as she clenches her teeth together unconsciously. She's pretty in her grey panties and tank, and he notices. There's a little knot in her hair in the back of her head, and Xander reaches out to smooth it out. She's crying.
She throws a plate in the sink and water splashes them both. They've been wet all night. Doesn't matter.
"He'll be okay, you know..."
She nods, not angry. Her hands holding the dishrag and the dish are shaking.
"Just a scare."
She nods again, and quickly runs a soapy hand across her cheek to wipe the upsetting tears off her cheeks.
Xander sits at the counter and they stay silent for a good ten minutes, before Anya's low, broken voice sneaks to his ears.
"He shouldn't do this kind of thing."
"He did the right thing," Xander sighs, knowing this doesn't hold much weight.
"But he's hurt."
She turns and studies him carefully, both hands still in the water in front of her. He doesn't say anything, and she resumes her task, putting a little bit too much care into it.
"I'm sleepy." He's not really. He's exhausted. Bone tired.
He gets up and makes his way back to the bedroom. "You coming?"
"Yeah. I'll... I'll finish this first."
They can barely be bothered to converse normally, and it's not the late hours. He can feel just how wiped she is too, from across the apartment. And he doesn't feel like talking to her, although he wishes she'd come to bed too.
He does, go to bed that is, and lifts the sheet to join the young-looking boy who looks comfortable even though Xander knows he hasn't moved at all since they put him down there. He pulls him to his chest, and his movements aren't particularly tender or gentle. The other man feels like a broken mannequin against him, and he just wants to squeeze, to hold securely, in case he disappears. In case he gets another brilliant idea, in case he wants to play hero again. And he will. But not as long as he's unconscious, and stuck in this bed, pinned against him with strong arms. If Anya came to bed he couldn't get out on the other side either, and he'd be trapped, and he'd have to stay and be okay.
The grey light on the ceiling reaches the opposite wall by the time Anya comes back, leaving all the lights on in the other rooms. She slips in and Spike moves, and their bodies arrange themselves naturally. Anya's not crying anymore, but she's not sleeping either. Xander watches her for a bit over Spike's head, then closes his eyes.
Now he can't get out. Xander can sleep, for now.
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