Fic: Something (1/4)

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Something
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Title: Something (1/4)
Rating: PG-13
Summary: What if Spike hadn’t died in “Chosen”?  How would their relationship have reached its natural conclusion/consummation?  5300 words.
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine, I am making no money, etc.
Author’s Note: There are four chapters to this story, and all will be posted today. Thank you to ladyofthelog and snickfic  for taking over the community and keeping it running smoothly!

All he has are dreams.

* ^ * ^ * ^ * ^ *

He hurts everywhere. Parts of him feel like they are fire and some parts feel like they have been sliced to ribbons and other parts he can’t feel at all. Then it switches, all of a sudden, and what was aflame is now lacerated and what was lacerated is now gone.

And when he’s able to put aside the pain, compartmentalize it, and focus his vision, he sees Dawn. At first he thinks she is floating in gray space. Then he blinks and sees, for an instant, the chair she is sitting on; then the chair goes out of focus and all he sees is his nibblet.

He starts to smile, but there seems to be something wrong with his lips. They won’t turn. Then he remembers that Dawn doesn’t like him and wouldn’t want him to smile at her anyway.

She glances at him and back down, but her long brown hair has only veiled her face for a split second before her head shoots up again and she stares.


Strange how her voice quivers a little.

It takes him a few moments to procure a sound. His throat is as uncooperative as his lips.

“Y-y- yes?” he finally manages.

She moves, and the chair comes briefly back into focus, and then it’s gone and she’s closer than she was before. Lines mar her pretty face,
almost like worry. As though she cares. Spike wishes he could soothe them. Wishes they were actually worry, actually for him.

“You’re alive! I mean you’re undead, but you’re awake and- and-” She presses a hand to her mouth as though she doesn’t believe what’s she saying. Then she reaches that hand toward him but stops short, her fingers wavering.

“H-how do you feel? Spike?”

For the life of him he can’t think of the right words to describe what he feels. It’s just…too much. Of everything. Too much pain. Too much effort to analyze that pain. So he decides to focus on something good instead.

“This is a nice dream,” he says.

Dawn blinks. “W-why do you think it’s a dream?”

“Because you don’t hate me,” he replies. “So it’s a dream.”

She blinks again, and her eyes fill with tears. Dismay tinged with horror (he knows he should be thoroughly horrified, should offer himself for penance, but he aches so much that he only has room for a tinge) fills him and he wonders what he did wrong now. If this is his dream, how can he upset Dawn, whom he would never, ever want to hurt?

“Dawn?” he says weakly. “Nibblet?”

She stands, wiping her eyes with the back of her hand and not looking at him. “I need to go- go get Buffy. She’ll want-” She makes a sound a little like a hiccup, and then she’s gone.

Spike closes his eyes and thinks that if these are his dreams, he’d rather have nightmares.

* * *


Her voice is faint, coming to him through a fog, but it’s her voice so he must answer it.

He forces his eyes open and the first thing he sees is her face, hovering above him. She looks anxious. He hates that.

So he tries to smile, even though he knows he’s never been good at cheering her up before and why should now be any different? But he
tries anyway, and this time his lips work, although he feels the sting of them cracking.

“’Lo,” he rasps. He almost adds ‘love’ but remembers in time that she isn’t his to love.

Something wet drips on his cheek. It’s a tear, fallen from her face. She’s crying. Spike wonders, miserably, what he’s done now.

“The First…” he croaks. “Is it…using me again?” Had he killed someone? Did she have to beat him? Is that why he can’t move, why she’s crying?

“No! Spike, no!” She looks so startled that he believes her. Her fingertips come near his face but don’t touch; he wishes they would.

“We won,” she says, her voice trembling in a very un-Buffy-like way. “We won, Spike. The First is gone. And you- you almost d-died-”

She presses the same hand to her mouth, choking off something, maybe a sob.

Almost died. That’s nothing new. Although it hurts a bit more than usual.

“We won,” he repeats. “Good.”

He closes his eyes and doesn’t remember to open them again.

* * *

There’s movement around him, shapes and sounds, blurred bodies and voices without bodies. He’s aware of it, but he can’t focus on it. After a while he starts to recognize the voices- the boy, the witch, the demon, his nibblet- and her.

He always recognizes her.

She whispers to the others, sometime says his name. He sees her fingers touch him but can’t feel it; he can’t feel anything.

Her blurred shape is always lit up, glowing. If he almost died, then she’s the angel that saved him.

She always has been.

* * *

This time it’s Willow sitting in the chair, and he can see the chair now and the walls around him and he knows he’s lying on a bed.

He makes a guttural sound, and she looks up.

When she moves to his side and looks down at him, he notices the concern that etches her face. Funny that. He’s not used to concern from a Scooby.

“How do you feel, Spike?” She pauses and when he doesn’t answer, adds, “Do you hurt? I can give you something to dull the pain. We gave you some a little while ago, but you can have more.”

He thinks. It’s hard. He doesn’t feel pain. He feels…numb.

He tries to shake his head, but that does hurt, pressure squeezing suddenly against his forehead.

Willow sees his wince and misunderstands. “I’ll get some. I’ll be right back. I’ll get Buffy,” she adds.

And because she said that, he forces his eyes to stay open once she leaves.

She’s not gone long, thankfully, and Buffy follows her into the room, her movements fast and jerky.

She’s over him immediately, her face pinched and drawn. She sits when Willow pushes a chair under her and leans across him, holding something out. He sees the familiar yellow mug, but its importance doesn’t register until the scent wafts toward him and jump-starts his previously forgotten nose.


Even though he knows she’s done it before, recalls more vividly than this all seems now sitting chained in a bathtub while she fed him from this very mug and mocked him so that he hated her and craved her at once, he still makes a noise of protest. She shouldn’t have to do this.

“Do you think you can swallow?” she asks kindly, oblivious. “We used a spoon while you were sleeping.”

She spoon-fed him? Blood? He closes his eyes. The whole world has gone mad.

She holds the mug near his lips and tips it, and he drinks because he knows that’s what she wants. The blood slides down his throat with surprising ease, and though he’s not hungry, it certainly doesn’t taste bad. There’s an odd flavor to it, one that’s familiar, one that jars him down to his bones (if he even still has bones; he’s not quite sure at the moment). There’s just enough sedative mixed with it that he can’t identify it, though. But it’s delicious, and something almost like warmth trickles through him.

He feels the sedative start to take effect, and the numbness grows. He fights closing his eyes. Much as he yearns for oblivion, he yearns for her company even more.

She sets the mug aside and begins talking. About meaningless things, mostly, or at least, meaningless to him. She mentions girls’ names- the potentials (only not potential anymore, are they? Full-fledged slayers now. It should make his skin crawl and his demon sing with lust, knowing there are so many slayers, but he feels nothing; they will never be the slayer).

He thinks she’s telling him what happened to the girls; they’re moving on now that the First is gone, going to other places for training. Giles has taken a few to England, where he plans to rebuild the Watchers Council and search for more slayers. Faith and Nikki’s son have left as well.

It occurs to him that he’s glad Giles and the principal are gone. Wouldn’t be able to put up much of a fight now if they tried to murder him again.

She tells him about the town, how it’s reviving, about the school Dawn has to attend in the next town over because they destroyed the one over the Hellmouth (again), about her new job. He can’t comprehend a lot of what she says, but he’s grateful that she’s there, grateful that her voice grounds him. Even when he can’t help himself and starts to drift, her voice is still in the background.

And the last thing he notices before surrendering to the witch’s powders is the light pressure on his hand, the fact that she is holding his.

* * *

Most of the time when he wakes someone is sitting in the chair, reading a novel or a magazine or an ancient tome. Sometimes it’s Willow, sometimes it’s Dawn, sometimes it’s Anya, sometimes it’s Xander, and sometimes- the best times- it’s Buffy. He doesn’t usually say anything, and half the time they don’t even notice he’s awake. But he’s glad they’re there, glad he’s not alone.

Glad that he’s real and this isn’t all a dream.

* * *

Unexpectedly, his nose starts to work before his eyes do, and before he even opens them he knows that there’s blood in the room.

He’s hungry. He can’t remember the last time he was hungry, but there it is, the gnawing sensation in his belly, the twitching in his nose as he searches out the nearest blood.

He turns his head very carefully, grateful when it doesn’t give him a headache like last time, and sees the mug on the bedside table. He tries to lift his arm, but pain ratchets up it, and he stops.

He looks at the figure in the chair: Anya.

She’s flipping the pages of a glossy magazine, but she seems to feel his gaze and looks up.

“You’re awake,” she says.

He doesn’t reply. He wonders if she has it in her to feed him, if he has it in him to ask her.

She scoots her chair closer. “Do you want blood?” He can see her more clearly now. She’s pale and bears worry lines that will probably never fade, but her hair is blonde and curly like it was before they all feared the First, and her eyes are bright.

“I’m supposed to feed you when you’re awake,” she explains. She picks up the mug and wrinkles her nose. “Buffy’s at work, otherwise I’d make her do it. Do you want any?”

“Yes,” he rasps.

She holds the mug to his lips. He drinks almost feverishly, gulping and swallowing and gulping some more. The blood isn’t the temperature he likes- it was obviously heated a while ago- but even tepid it’s still rich and normal and satisfying. He licks his lips when he’s done, and Anya puts the mug back on the table.

For once he feels alert. He doesn’t think he could drift away even if he wanted to. He looks at Anya, wondering if she’ll talk to him like Buffy does, half-hoping she will.

“Do you need anything else?” she asks, and the words sound like a recitation. “Buffy wants us to coddle you. Personally, I think you’ve had enough coddling. You’re probably sick of it.”

He gives a small shrug, using economy of movement so it doesn’t hurt. He doesn’t mind the coddling much, especially when it’s from Buffy.

But it would be nice to do something, maybe get out of bed. How long has he been here? His eyes wander the room, and he realizes (and can’t believe it took him this long) that it’s Buffy’s room. He’s in her bed.

Shame fills him. If he’s been in her bed, where has she been?

He should leave.

He tries to sit up automatically, not thinking of the consequences, and his torso seems to tear in half. He can’t keep from moaning.

Something flashes in Anya’s eyes, but it’s gone in an instant and then her gaze is dispassionate. “Do you want to know what happened to you?” she asks.

Spike stares at her. For the first time it seems significant that they slept together (well, significant beyond the obvious reasons). He remembers that they actually have a lot in common, this ex-demon and he. Both have sordid pasts; both had to claw their way into the Scoobies; both view the world from a non-human lens.

“Yes,” he says, and adds what he didn’t say before, when she offered him blood. “Please.”

“I was upstairs chopping Bringers’ heads off, so I didn’t see what actually happened in the cavern,” she says matter-of-factly. “But Buffy told us about it. The amulet activated and started blowing up all the uber-vamps.”

He remembers that part.

“And you started burning up.”

He remembers that, too. Not quite so pleasant a memory.

“Which makes sense,” continues Anya. “Since you’re a vampire and you were channeling sunlight through that tacky thing. Of course it would burn you. So the uber-vamps are going poof, and the cavern’s starting to collapse, and you’re slowly incinerating.”

Unbidden, a weak smile stretches Spike’s lips. He likes how she doesn’t mince words.

“Buffy tried to get you to leave, and I think you said something stupid like you had to clean up or see how it ended or something. But it was obvious that the cave was going to collapse, with or without you in it, so Buffy ignored you and tried to get the amulet off. It was too hot to touch, so she used her magical scythe and chopped it off. That’s why you have a stabby-sort-of wound across your chest as well as all the burns, ‘cause she couldn’t cut the necklace without also cutting you.

“So, anyway, the amulet fell off, and Buffy and Faith hauled you out of there. We drove away on the school bus, and came back here and are so far living happily ever after, except I expect that will change soon since, you know, it’s us.”

It takes Spike a moment to formulate his thoughts. It’s a lot to process, and memories are now mingling with her words.

“The Hellmouth?” he manages.

Anya shrugs. “We’re still in Sunnydale, obviously, but we think the Hellmouth might actually be gone. Physically, it’s a pile of rubble. A huge hole in the ground.”

“Really?” He can’t help sounding impressed, a little proud.

She rolls her eyes. “Don’t get too worked up about it. It’s not like you turned the entire town into a crater.” But she’s smiling as she says it.

“It is weird,” she admits. “You should see the media attention it’s getting. Excavation crews haven’t even gone near it yet because the ground is still smoking.”

He smiles, satisfied, happy that all this pain is worth something. He closed the Hellmouth. Well, the amulet did. But he’s the one who allowed himself to be barbecued in the process. Take that, Angel.

“There hasn’t been a lot of Hellmouth-ish activity lately,” she continues. “Buffy still patrols most nights, but I think she’s only staked one vampire since it happened, and he was probably just confused. Giles thought it was safe enough that he left to go track down new slayers. The others left, too. The neurotic redhead and the African American went to London.”

Vi and Rona, he thinks about telling her. He learned their names when he helped train them; and he knew that Buffy wouldn’t, so he learned them for her sake.

“Faith went to Cleveland with the principal, and Willow’s annoying girlfriend went with them, although I don’t think she’ll be gone for long. She wasn’t sure about the move in the first place, and Willow’s been pining.”

“What about the other one?” asks Spike when she doesn’t continue. “Amanda?”

The new lines on Anya’s face tighten. “She died. In the cavern.”

Spike remembers how cheerful she was and that she was Dawn’s friend, and he sends a little prayer for her sake to whoever’s willing to listen to vampires’ prayers.

“How long-” He doesn’t need to finish.

“Three weeks and two days,” says Anya. “We’re keeping track. You know like they do in factories, how many days since an accident? How many days until the Hellmouth starts ruining our lives again. Xander tried to start a betting pool, but I made him stop. He would have jinxed us. So far it’s been very relaxing.”

“Summers were always quiet,” says Spike.

They’re silent for a few minutes, and Spike finds it almost as comforting as talking. He likes being with Anya. She’s more relaxing than the others (except Buffy of course). He always feels a bit wary when he’s with Willow or Xander because he doesn’t understand why they’re suddenly being nice to him- or at least, non-aggressive; and Dawn unsettles him: whenever she’s with him she looks like she might spontaneously weep. But he doesn’t expect anything from Anya; he knows that anything she’s feeling or thinking will show on her face and in what she says.

And that’s why he asks her, “What do I look like?”

She hesitates. “Are you sure you want to know?”

Fear prickles in him, but he only stares at her.

She straightens, her expression becoming clinical again. “To start with, the amulet set you on fire. The flames didn’t magically disappear once the amulet was off, and you were in the sun while Buffy was getting you on the school bus, so you were basically a flaming coal briquette when we saw you. You’re burned all over. You’re one massive blister. An oozing pustule. A-”

“I understand,” says Spike hastily.

“Good because I couldn’t think of another synonym. All right, burned all over, that’s thing one. Then you have the stabby-wound I mentioned. A big slice across your chest, like you were part of a vampire pizza.”

He’d be impressed by her bizarre descriptions if he weren’t so unnerved.

“And thing three…” She hesitates again. “There’s a hole in you.”


“Not so much anymore,” she says. “It’s healing. But you had a hole in you, right where the amulet was. It burned right through you. We could see in one side and out the other. There were lots of guts and arteries and lungs or…well I don’t know what they were. I’m good with disemboweling, not so much with the chest area. But we could see through you. Since it came from the amulet, technically that should be part of thing one but…” She shrugs. “I wanted to save the best for last.”

“The best?”

Anya blinks. “Yeah. There was an actual hole in you chest. It reminded me of the stuff I used to do.” She sounds so genuinely impressed that Spike can’t find it in him to be offended.

“What do I look like now?” he asks, trying to quell his nerves. He dips his chin to his chest to try to look at himself, but the effort makes him dizzy. Is the hole still there?

Even if it is, he’s healing, right? He doesn’t hurt nearly as much as he did when he first woke (how many days ago was it?), not even as much as he did ten minutes ago. And he can see his arms- they’re red and blistered but they’re still there, still whole. They itch in fact, and he’s suddenly glad of it, very glad that they’re not numb.

“The hole is mostly healed,” says Anya. “At least I think it is. Buffy and Willow are the only ones who ever change the bandages, so they would know for sure. You’re still red and scaly from your burns, but those are getting better. Buffy only puts about one tube of aloe vera on you a day instead of two.”

Buffy puts cream on him? And he hadn’t known? He feels robbed.

But also relieved. He is healing. He’s a vampire, so eventually he’ll be as good as new, even if it takes a while. And hopefully he’ll look as good as new, too.

He looks at Anya. “Thank you.”

She smiles. It’s soft and a little sad, but it’s a smile. She leans forward and pats his hand. “You’ll be okay,” she says. “We’re taking care of you.”

* * *

He’s surprised, one day, to see Andrew. He hadn’t seen nor heard the boy, had forgotten about him to tell the truth, assumed he’d moved on with the new slayers. But there he is in the chair, shoulders hunched, lips pursed, burrowed into a comic book. He glances up when he turns the page and his eyes pop.

“Spike! You’re awake! You live!”

It dawns on him that maybe they’ve been keeping Andrew away from him on purpose.

Andrew springs to his feet. “How are you feeling? Do you need anything? Because I am at your service, at your command! Anything you need- pillows, bandages, blood- do you want cream for your burns? I could rub cream on you…” He reaches for a tube on the bedside table.

“No!” chokes Spike, and Andrew falters, looking disappointed.

“Blood,” says Spike, both because he’s hungry and because he wants to give the boy something to do so he’ll stop looking at Spike with that mortifying, googly-eyed expression.

“Blood, of course, coming right up! Anything for the biggest champion of all time.”

Spike rolls his eyes, because if there’s anything to bust a bubble and an ego, it’s Andrew’s unintentional hyperbole. Still, he can’t help feeling gratified when Andrew races out of the room and calls over his shoulder that he’ll make sure it’s 98.6 degrees. The boy returns a few minutes later and holds the mug toward him.

Someone’s been putting more pillows under him lately, and Spike is propped up enough that he’s almost halfway to sitting up. Furthermore, he can move his arms now. He hadn’t fed himself yet because they still hurt, but given Andrew’s besotted expression, he’s willing to risk it.

He firmly takes the mug out of Andrew’s resisting fingers, ignoring the boy’s sound of disappointment, and takes a long draught. It has the same delicious flavor he remembers from one of the first times he woke, only now he’s regained enough of his senses to recognize it.

He spits it out onto the bandages covering his chest. “Bloody hell!”

Andrew jumps. “S-Spike? What’s wrong? Is it okay? I can make it warmer-”

“What is this?” Spike snarls, thrusting the mug toward Andrew. He doesn’t want to touch it, doesn’t want it near him. The thought of how much he must have already ingested makes him close his eyes, and he has to fight not to be sick.

“I-it’s b-blood-”

“Why is her blood in it? I’m not drinking it!”

“Y-you have to. B-Buffy said it would make you better faster-”

“Sod that! I’m not drinking it! Where is she?”

Andrew’s lips wobble, and his eyes dart around the room. He takes several deep breaths, curls his tiny fists, and straightens. “Spike, at this time I am your appointed caretaker, and it is my duty to ensure that you-”

Spike snaps. He surges upright, snarling, and Andrew shrieks, stumbles backward, and trips over the chair, falling and knocking it over, too. Spike wants to tell the boy not to be a baby, that even if he had meant to get out of bed and attack him, which he hadn’t, he wouldn’t be able to, but he’s too busy moaning himself. He moved too fast, and agony ripples through his chest as he sits up for the first time in over a month. Still, he manages garbled threats.

“If you don’t- get rid of- I’ll- disembowel- you-”

There’s a clattering on the stairs and then Buffy appears in the doorway, out of breath.

“What’s going on?”

She sounds panicked and immediately steps toward Spike, but then her gaze takes in Andrew, scrambling to his feet, Spike’s expression of fury, and the mug he still holds in his trembling hand.

Her eyes narrow. “What is going on?”

For once her potential fury doesn’t quell his. He raises the mug higher, even though it’s already prominent and even though his arm is shaking, his chest is burning, and he wants nothing more than to lie back down.

“What’s going on?” What’s going on?” he shouts. “Are you out of your mind, Slayer? What have you been feeding me?”

“I’ve been feeding you what you need to get well,” she says through gritted teeth.

“Well, I’m not drinking it.”

Her hands, which had been clenching and unclenching by her side, suddenly still. It’s a worse sign than when they’re in fists.

Her voice is utter ice. “Yes, you are.”

He snorts. “I don’t think so. I’ll not have you bleeding yourself for me.” He makes to put the mug down, trying to twist his body so it won’t hurt as much.

“Did you…” He stops trying to twist and realizes her eyes have focused on the fresh bloodstain on his otherwise pristine bandages.

“Did you spit up my blood?”

He glares at her. “I didn’t know it was yours and-”

“You spat out my blood?” She’s yelling now, so he matches her volume.

“I don’t want to drink your blood!”

“Why the hell not? Doesn’t it taste good?”

“It’s bloody delicious, but that’s not the point! You shouldn’t be-”

“Don’t tell me what I should and should not do! My priority is to make you better! Blood helps vampires heal, Slayer blood tastes extra yummy with a side of scrumptious, ergo, Slayer blood is special and will help you heal faster-”

“Ergo? Did you just say ergo?”

“Shut up, Spike! My blood will help you, so that’s what you’ll get-”

“I won’t drink it! I’m not worth you cutting yourself-”

“Yes you are! You are worth it, you idiot!”

Spike stares at her, finally shocked speechless, but she doesn’t notice and keeps shouting, her cheeks blazing red and her fingers curled again.

“Do you have any idea how badly you were injured? You had a hole in your chest the size of a baseball. You almost died, I thought you were- I thought you were dead even though you weren’t dust. You didn’t wake up for nineteen days. Nineteen days.”

She takes several deep, gulping breaths. “And that was only after I gave you some of my blood. It’s not even a lot, but it’s helping you, and it
doesn’t hurt me. And I will not lose you, so you are going to keep drinking it, whether you like it or not! And if you don’t cooperate, I will knock you out and force-feed you! Do you understand?”

He gapes at her, unable to respond because he’s too busy trying to process everything she’s said and everything it means.

I will not lose you.

He realizes that the doorway is filled with people now: Willow, Dawn, Andrew (cowering behind Dawn), Xander, and Anya. It must be night, and visiting hours. Just his luck. The Scoobies all look as stunned as he feels, except Dawn, who seems unsurprised that it’s come to this.

“Drink,” says Buffy.

Spike opens his mouth.

She glowers.

He looks from her to the sweet-smelling, viscous blood. He can taste it on his tongue, taste her. Never has anything been so tempting and so repulsive.

He glares at her as he brings the mug to his lips. He wants them all to see his mutiny, wants them to know he’s not just an animal that will eat whatever’s set before it. Even Buffy’s blood.

Especially Buffy’s blood.

It’s as delicious as he knew it would be, even though he can tell there’s less than an ounce of it mixed in with the animal blood. In terms of potency, it’s a far cry from the Chinese slayer’s blood so many years before, but it’s so much more meaningful because it’s hers.

He drinks it in one long swallow so as not to prolong the experience (he doesn’t want to look like he’s savoring it) and keeps his eyes on Buffy’s the whole time. To his surprise, she doesn’t look away. When he finally sets the empty mug on his lap, his stomach churns with guilt.

Buffy moves toward him, grabs the mug, and is back at the door before Spike has time to be unnerved (excited) by her proximity. The scent of her shampoo lingers in front of him.

“I’m going to get you more,” she says, and pushes through the Scoobies.

They all stare at each other for a moment, and then to Spike’s great relief, Willow herds the Scoobies away. He wishes he could go with them; for the first time he’s aware enough to feel an intense yearning to get out of bed. He doesn’t want to burden Buffy anymore or to become even more beholden to her. And it scares him that after all this time he’s falling even more deeply in love with her, because he knows it will only lead to his eventual heartbreak.

I will not lose you.

Won’t it?

She comes back into the room, and his heart aches with both love and anger. He’s furious at her for making him drink her blood and furious at himself because how dare he despise such a gift?

She sits on the edge of the bed and hands him another mug. He can still feel the furrow in his brow and can see the tension in her face, too.

“It’s normal,” she says, though he wasn’t going to ask.

He sips this time instead of gulps and avoids her gaze, even though she’s watching him. He’s reluctant to wash away the taste of her blood, much as the thought shames him.

“Thank you,” he says gruffly, and hopes she knows what he means.

“You’re welcome.” She looks down, her hair falling to hide her face, and when she looks back up she blinks and doesn’t meet his gaze. She takes several deep breaths but doesn’t speak. Spike sips some more. He wonders, with sinking heart, if this is the beginning of the end of their comfortable silences.

He shouldn’t have argued with her.

He should have argued harder.

“I wouldn’t have hit you,” she says suddenly, and finally meets his gaze.

He raises his eyebrow, momentarily forgetting his despair.

“If I’d needed to knock you out,” she elaborates. A blush decorates her cheeks. “I would have had Willow sedate you. I wouldn’t have hit you. Just so you know.”

He stares at her for so long that her cheeks go as red as he’s ever seen them. A chuckle rises in him, tickling his throat until it bursts forth. It’s a hoarse, almost painful sound, but it’s a laugh, the first he’s had in he doesn’t remember how long.

Her lips tremble and inch upward.

His shoulders shake with mirth, and she smiles, and everything’s (almost) all right.


Part 2

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