It started with a twinge. Naught but the tiniest squiggle of a feeling as he hauled himself from his chair to the bed. The fact that he was alone in the bed was almost enough to keep him from noticing. Almost.
Barely even there. Barely even felt. Just the thinnest of threads giving a tiny wriggle under his skin. Nothing to get worked up about at all. Except….Except that before, it really had been nothing. No feeling at all from his lower back on down, ever since the night of his princess’s cure. And now… that barely there almost nothing of a tingle just above his tail bone.
Just imagining it, he told himself as he worked to get comfortable. Once, Dru would have been helping with that. Arranging his legs just so as she cuddled and cooed over him. Now though…. His jaw clenched. Now she was off having a gay old time of it with her precious “Daddy,” leaving Spike to fend for himself.
And here he was, so pathetic that he was imagining some kind of sensation in the useless, paralyzed half of his body. If he managed to recover…. Rise up from the bloody chair and drive a stake right through Angelus’s shriveled excuse for a heart. Kill the slayer, and then take Dru and leave Sunnyhell far behind them.
He let the hopeless fantasy play out in his mind, drowning out the bitter frustration of his existence as he drifted off to sleep.
He hadn’t imagined it. That became abundantly clear over the next few days. The single vague sensation became several, happening at random throughout his lower back and down into his thighs. Then one or two in his calves, like something swimming under his skin for a moment before vanishing away. And then down into his ankles and feet.
After that came the tingling. And then the pain. At first it was just a constant, low level fuzz of pain, like a telly left on a station it couldn’t get. Then came the sparks. Jagged bolts of pain like lightning, coming at random just like the first sensations. Squiggles of agony that lasted an eternity in a single moment.
And through it all, he clenched his teeth and endured. Not a peep. No word to anyone about it, not even Dru. With her sire there, she couldn’t be trusted. Only the pillow on his lonely bed knew the truth. It listened to his muffled screams when the pain became too much. When the merest brush of the blanket against his lower body was like ants made of fire marching against his skin. So much easier to just toss the bedding aside, but feeling something, no matter how painful, was better than the nothing he had endured before.
The pillow listened, silently nonjudgmental, as he whispered his fantasies and plans into it. He was getting better. Would keep getting better. He wasn’t going to be stuck like this for the rest of his unlife, unending jolts of agony as the nerves started to reconnect but never quite managed it….
He would get better. He would. And when he did, Angelus was going to pay. No fast death for his grandsire. Spike would rise up from the bloody wheelchair, whole and fit, and he’d smash the surprise right from the bastard’s smug face. Smash and bash, beating him down while Dru watched and laughed with glee….
That’s a bloody laugh, innit? he thought bitterly. She’d be more likely to tear my throat out if I went after “Daddy” than to cheer me on.
But it was all just fantasy, wasn’t it? Returning sensation didn’t mean he’d ever walk again. That was reality, and it was high time he stopped wallowing about in fantasies and got used to the way things were. He snorted and shook his head. Might as well insist that the sun start rising in the west. He’d always been a dreamer. Head in the clouds while all the what-ifs and could-have-beens floated about. No harm to it, really. Just the way he was.
A new fantasy began to take form. The slayer bursting through the mansion door in a blaze of glory, practically glowing with righteous fury. She went after Angelus like the Terminator in pursuit of Sarah Connor. But that hyperfocus left her vulnerable to Dru.
She went after the slayer, only seconds from destroying the girl and shagging her sire on the bloody corpse. But that was when Spike rose up from the sodding chair, stepping between them and knocking Dru out. A frozen moment as the slayer and the slayer of slayers stared at each other, acknowledging the inevitability of mutual destruction should they meet again….
And then he would leave, taking Dru away from it all while the slayer fought Angelus to the death.
She’d brought him hospital blood. Angelus’s idea, no doubt, but Dru had gone along with it. She’d been the one to hand over the packets. Bagged red blood cells without the platelets or plasma and preserved with something that made it almost sickeningly sweet. She’d offered it up to him like some sort of grand treat, moments before her sire had swaggered into view.
“Sorry for the bagged lunch,” he’d said mockingly, “but you know how it is. Me and Dru, roaming the town. We just got so… busy, that time slipped away. We’ll try to bring you a nice snack next time we’re out. Maybe a child. Or a puppy. Wouldn’t want to overburden an invalid, after all.” He’d turned a smarmy grin to Dru. “Isn’t that right, my dear?”
She’d just… giggled. Giggled and clapped like a schoolgirl before following her sire off to wherever.
Wherever. Right. As if he didn’t know. They didn’t even try to hide it from him most times. “Wherever” was somewhere convenient for shagging each other senseless. It was worse that way. Seeing them going at it was one thing. It was right there, in front of him. But when he couldn’t see it…. When they just left him on his own, to imagine what they were doing, it was lonely and awful.
And now it was daylight out, and he’d been left alone again, Dru and Angelus cuddled up together somewhere while Spike stared at the empty bed he’d once shared with her. He took a deep breath, fighting back despair as he grabbed the arms of the chair and pushed himself up, prepared to basically just fall into the bed. The usual routine.
Except, this time, he’d been distracted and hadn’t wheeled himself quite close enough. He fell to the ground, the pain that had become his constant companion shrieking through his lower body, lashing at him with hair-thin wires of white hot agony. Finally, after what seemed like eons, the pain quieted down to its usual level. And Spike gasped out something that was half laugh and half sob. God. Oh, god. One second, and then he’d been on the ground.
Not instantly. Only one second, but for that second, he’d bloody well stood.
He took several slow, deep breaths, then closed his eyes, teeth clenching as he focused. Come on now, mate, he told himself, you can do this. He could do it. He would do it.
After several moments of struggle and effort, he lay there on the floor, panting and exhausted. But victorious. He’d done it. He’d wiggled a toe.
Not much, but it was a start. He was healing. He felt tears prick at the back of his eyes and just let them flow. He was healing. He’d get better. Stronger. Strong enough to take back his princess and kill his grandsire. But even healed, he wouldn’t be able to do it alone.
The plan began to form. He’d heal up. Work on regaining strength in the muscles he hadn’t been able to use. And then…. He smiled through his tears. He wasn’t going to wait and hope that things would work out the way he wanted them to. He’d hide his recovery, just as he’d been hiding the pain. And when the time was right, he’d make a deal with the slayer. Angelus would be dust, and he and Dru would be on their way out of town, forever free of him and of any trace of bloody Sunnydale.
He’d healed up, and his plan had gone perfectly. One of the few times that had happened, probably because his own physical limitations had kept him from jumping the gun. He’d been forced to follow each step to the letter.
The slayer had agreed to the truce. He’d kept his end of things, manipulating Angelus in order to keep the Watcher alive and more or less intact. He’d knocked Dru out, leaving the slayer and Angelus to hopefully kill each other. The world hadn’t been sucked up into hell, so something at least had put a stop to his grandsire. Which meant everything should have been perfect.
Except it wasn’t. Dru was in a snit. Pouting and shagging anything she could get her hands on, trying to hurt him by being unfaithful. He’d expected it, but not for it to last quite this long. And he hadn’t expected to find himself thinking back on Sunnydale quite so much. Of a girl with golden hair and impeccable style.
That bloody place and that bloody bitch had destroyed him. Like Humpty Dumpty, he’d been shattered into pieces. But unlike that sodding egg, he’d put himself back together again. He’d healed from the broken back. He’d plotted and planned against his grandsire, successfully stopping the bastard. Everything was supposed to be blood and peaches from now on. Perfect.
So why did it feel like it was all falling apart?
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