This whole 'get some sleep' thing was easier said than done, Xander decided, but then, that was hospitals for you. Not that they hadn't hooked him up with the good drugs, he'd give 'em that, but the problem was they were
everything bloomed again in color and light behind the lids.
The darkness of the old winery, Buffy and Faith leading the way, Spike, Xander and Larry flanking the potential Slayers who followed. Flickering torches. A bow in his hand. The sightless, soundless Bringers coming from the sides, and a man in a black suit standing in the middle of the room, laughing at Buffy's tiny army. Caleb, the First Evil's new high priest, Bringer version 2.0 now with better clothes and oh yeah, we'll throw in some hair and eyes at no extra charge.
good for the dreams to be completely accurate. Here and there someone stepped out of script, yelled something she hadn't, wore a blue wig. Sometimes one of the scaredtobe-Slayers would turn her head and look at him from across that big, dark room and it would be Nadia or Isabel who swung her sword at a blinded priest. Even Harmony, once, and that one was close enough to home that when he woke up he had to ask Willow where she was, be reminded that Harmony Kendall had, like his parents, shown rare good sense and scrammed out of town sometime last week.
The end was the same, though. No matter which girl Caleb picked up by the throat, Xander was always close enough to get there just as she hit the ground, too late to save that one but in time to help Kennedy to her feet, though once she was Tara and she smiled at him before she scrambled away.
The low, southern voice was always serious and friendly as one big hand reached for his head and Xander heard, "
." The throbbing behind his bandage would usually wake him up, but not soon enough.
So Xander flipped the television on again, because noise outside his head would both keep him awake and cover up that same soft, reasonable voice pointing out that the problem didn't have anything to do with what he saw when he closed his
"Hey." Faith had both hands jammed into her pockets, and she slowly approached the bed, jaw set. "You're supposed to be out cold."
"Got kinda boring," Xander lied, dropping the remote on the bed beside the stuffed frog around whose paw Willow had helpfully fastened a paper patient-ID bracelet so he wouldn't feel left out.
Reaching the bed, Faith hoisted herself up to sit by the frog, then took Xander's hand, and said, "Are the drugs good enough? 'Cause I can still call in some favors, maybe, if you want something really expensive and illegal."
"Tempting. Very tempting. Can you get me something that makes the storylines on Most of My Kids make sense?" Xander made a face at the tv, and grabbed the remote to flip it to... well, another soap opera.
"I do that, and there's no coming back. The next stop is Passions, and we don't wanna go there." She studied his face, tried to imagine what it looked like under the bandage, and her fingers tightened, hard. "I'm getting this fucker if it's the last thing I do."
"Yeah, I refuse to share a favorite soap opera with Spike. I refuse to have a favorite soap opera. Though if they don't let me out of here soon, I might not be able to avoid the shame." Xander tapped the remote once more, over to a Santa Barbara news report, which predictably blamed the recent exodus from Sunnydale on still-untraced gas leaks.
"He's just a guy," Xander added quietly once he'd tossed the remote down again. "He's not the big bad."
Faith nodded, looking away. After a minute's worth of silence, she muttered, "I should've had him. He surprised me, but I should've... goddamnit." She closed her eyes, still hanging onto Xander's hand, but more loosely now.
"Yeah, getting kicked across a room into a pile of barrels throws you off your game every time. What's that about?" Xander rolled his...eye. "Buffy called retreat, you started getting the girls out. That's what we were supposed to be doing. Not your day to watch me."
"Then who the hell was supposed to get him? Buffy was being General. I was in back. Who the hell else was supposed to take out the bad guy?" Faith looked at him again, studying the damage that was going to remind her every time she saw him that she hadn't been fast enough, smart enough, strong enough-- something. "How come you're not mad at me? Is it the drugs? If they're that good, can I have some?"
"It's not the drugs. Though they are pretty groovy." Xander shook his head, which made the room swim for a second but for a change didn't hurt, attesting to said grooviness. "You were doing your job, which isn't babysitting me; you and Buffy trusted me to do mine. Nobody screwed up. Shit happens."
"Then why the hell--" Faith struggled, feeling tears come to her eyes again, but not trying to stop them. "I don't-- no one's ever gotten hurt like this. This isn't... Fuck." She laced her fingers with his, letting out a long, slow, sigh. "Pretty goddamn stupid to say the good guys don't get hurt, hunh."
"You mean 'cause usually we just get dead?" Xander touched the bandage over his eye, and couldn't help flinching and feeling the prickle of tears that he didn't want to come not because at this point he had any shame over them, but because they burned. "Straight up, this sucks all kinds of ass."
"Yeah, that." Faith gave a watery chuckle, then reached out to softly touch the hand prodding at his face. "Xander. I'm only gonna say it once. But I'm sorry. Not apologizing again, 'cause maybe that's stupid. And not all worked up and shit. Just-- whatever you need. Tell me. Aside from Caleb's head as a soccer ball. That's already on the list."
"This is good, right here." Xander smiled, small but real. "Honestly? Just not being Willow right now would've been good enough, and don't you dare ever tell her I said that, because she'd take it the wrong way. Just she feels stuff so hard, and when it's your stuff she's feeling...we had this feedback loop going, and it was wearing me out."
"Gotcha. No telling." And if Red started wearing him down again, Faith was gonna pick her up by her belt and carry her out of the room. She kept stroking his hand, wanting to hold Xander, wanting to climb in bed with him to make sure nothing got past her. Staying back just enough to let him breathe, though. "Hey, Kennedy wants to start a fan club for you. Super Slayer Support Guy, or something. I thought that might sound like you sold pantyhose, but what do I know?"
"See, I would've gone with bras. You know, that natural lift thing, no underwire? I mean I've only got one pair of hands, so only one Slayer could use me at a time, but..."
Faith laughed, she actually laughed, with him lying there all beat up, and it was either kiss him or start fucking crying again. Or both. So she did. Slow but as hot as she could make it, because goddamn did he deserve it, and she was so freaking grateful he hadn't died.
When she finally broke the kiss, she rested her forehead against his, still giggling through tears. "One Slayer's got a use for you right now. But I can hold out. For a while." Then she grinned. "But I don't need any damn bra."
"Guess it's just as well; I start providing that kind of support in here and they might kick us out."
Well, no, Xander winked.
"Except wait, that's a bad thing why?"
"No more awesome drugs," Faith reminded him. "You get to stay here 'til you remember that part."
"They're good, but not that good." Xander shook his head again, and tweaked Notzilla's patient-ID bracelet. "So not a hospital fan. Soon as they clear me, I'm out of here like whoa."
"Yeah. Right there with ya." Faith looked around and suppressed a shudder. "We get you home, get you rested, then I'll give you some TLC while we...." Her shoulders slumped, and she said softly, "Come up with the next plan. Shit."
"Oz had one involving hummus that we never got around to using," Xander suggested. He skipped the part about when that particular idea had come up.
It was crunch-time and they all knew it was crunch-time. Getting to spend an uninterrupted night in his own bed in his own apartment was about as likely as the First's army of Turok Han turning into a horde of weetiny hugging snowmonsters in bunny suits by tomorrow morning.
Faith stared at him, then cracked a smile, wiping off the last of her tears with her knuckles. "Yeah. Better stock up. Gotta trip the Brings with that crap." Screw it.
She curled up further on the bed, and nervously asked, "Is this hurting you? 'Cause I can bug out, if it is," as she lay down next to him.
"We're good." Xander moved the remote to the table and the frog to the crook of his other arm. "Plenty of room."
She wrapped one arm around his middle, and settled in on his right side, so he could see her. "Nothing's gonna get you again," she said quietly. "Not while I'm here."
That, combined with the gown that tied up in back and the stuffed animal wearing a police badge and an ID bracelet, might've made a lesser man feel the need to point out that he really was a grownup type person despite all appearances to the contrary, but Xander knew what she meant. And he was tired enough, and maybe finally sleepy enough, to think it sounded just right.