Title: Taking Care
Characters: Spike, Joyce
Summary: Set in S4, Spike can never turn his back on an ailing woman.
Word Count: 682
When he heard the floorboards above his head creak, Spike swore under his breath and turned back to the stove to kill the flame beneath the pan. The tray was only half done, but he’d been late in arriving this morning, waylaid by the Sangusu demon who’d caught him cheating at the poker game the other night. The fight had been brief—the trick to beating a Sangusu was not being squeamish about going straight for the bollocks—but the tea had scattered to the four winds when he got thrown against his supplies. He’d raced back to the crypt for his last box and then run straight to Revello Drive to ensure he was done well before dawn.
He glanced at the clock. Five thirty. She hadn’t been up this early all week. Was it a loo run or was she on the mend?
He didn’t have time to find out. Glancing balefully at the pathetic offering one last time, he grabbed his coat from the stool he’d dropped it on and headed for the back door.
“You’re not going to join me?”
Though her voice was soft, Spike still froze at Joyce’s query, only his hand moving as it dropped back to his side. “Don’t know what you’re talkin’ about. I just popped in to see if there was anything I could nick since I'm runnin’ low on dosh. Your daughter’s a bit stingy with the favors she pays me for, you know.”
Her slippered feet shuffled over the kitchen floor. “And was one of those favors to surprise me with hot tea and toast every morning since I got sick? Or maybe it was the extra meds in the pretty little china bowl when I ran out?” She appeared at the corner of his eye, still wan but not quite as pale as she’d been when he’d left the breakfast tray at her bedside for the past four days. Gently, she reached for his coat, her fingers warm where she brushed against the back of his hand when he let it go. “Buffy has enough to worry about without adding me to the mix.”
He could still do a runner. Especially when she turned her back to him and went back to the island to drop his coat over the same stool he’d just taken it from. Nobody would be the wiser.
Except he could smell the fever emanating from her pores. Joyce might be feeling better, but she was still sick, and bugger if he could walk away from an ailing woman who didn’t have anyone else to take care of her.
Decision made, he pointed at the other stool. “Sit. S’long as you know, might as well finish what I started.”
With an appreciative smile, she did as he told, her gaze steady as he returned to the stove. “So Buffy doesn’t know you’re here, does she?”
Spike snorted. “You think I’d still be this good lookin’ if she’d cottoned on?”
“She might be impressed you’re taking care of me.”
“No, she’d say I have a death wish, which I don’t, so let’s make this our little secret, shall we?”
Joyce murmured agreement, mercifully dropping the subject for more mundane topics. He let her chatter on, glad she didn’t ask why he was doing this in the first place. Nothing good would come of that discussion. So what if he’d followed her home from the shops that first night with less than honorable intentions? As soon as he’d heard her wracking cough through the walls, Spike forgot about anything nefarious. Someone had to take care of Joyce, and since the Slayer was too wrapped up in her sad little life to see that her mum needed some TLC…
He couldn’t just walk away. Not to mention, there was a comforting familiarity in being able to tend to someone else for a change.
And if he found an ally in someone who might actually be able to talk Buffy out of staking him the next time he brassed her off, well, nothing wrong with that, now was there?